Hard lesson costly for Kentucky's Jarmon

May, 23, 2009
5/23/09
5:27
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Jeremy Jarmon was the antithesis of the stereotypical SEC football player.

He loved football and played the game the way it was meant to be played, but he wasn't defined by the game.

There was so much more to Jarmon than just football. He loved school. He loved acting. He loved traveling. He loved broadening himself any way he could.

He was also as real as it gets.

Earlier this week, as I continued my countdown of the SEC's 30 best football players, Jarmon sent me a good-natured text and zinged me about not including him.

That was vintage Jarmon, never one to be shy when it came to speaking his mind about anything.

Needless to say, when I heard Saturday morning that Jarmon had tested positive for taking a banned dietary supplement and wouldn't be back at Kentucky, I was stunned.

He's one of the last players I would have expected something like this to happen to. He's so smart, so seasoned, so well-read ...

You get the idea.

But it's a hard lesson for every college athlete out there: Don't even think about putting ANYTHING into your body before checking first with your medical and/or training staff.

The cruel irony of all this for Jarmon is that he came back for his senior season at Kentucky to -- in his words -- be a part of something special.

The Wildcats went 3-for-3 in the offseason, as cornerback Trevard Lindley, linebacker Micah Johnson and Jarmon all bypassed a chance to turn pro and returned to Kentucky for their senior seasons.

Now, some four months after proudly announcing that he would see his career through at Kentucky, Jarmon's career is abruptly over.

His production on the field will be missed. He ranks third in school history with 17.5 sacks and was one of those guys you could always count on to come up big in key spots. But as much as anything, the Wildcats will miss his leadership and the way he impacted his teammates.

Jarmon's early exit means the future is now for redshirt freshman Collins Ukwu and sophomore Chandler Burden. They were already fighting it out for the right defensive end spot opposite Jarmon. Now, the Wildcats need to find two ends.

Junior college transfer DeQuin Evans will be counted on more than ever. He's supposed to start summer school classes in June. Another guy to watch is signee Donte Rumph, who spent last year at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy. Rumph hopes to be on campus in June, but is still working toward qualifying.

However it plays out, nobody's going to step right in and be as effective as Jarmon.

I think it's telling that Jarmon asked to be at the news conference Saturday when the university announced that his appeal had been denied and he would indeed be ineligible. Understandably emotional, he wanted to get his side out there, and he didn't want anybody accusing him of running and hiding.

He made a mistake and owned up to it in a very public way. Hopefully, the stiff price he's having to pay will prevent somebody else from making the same mistake.

This much I know: The SEC won't be nearly as much fun to cover without Jarmon sacking quarterbacks and then waxing poetic afterward.

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