Kentucky assistant Greg Nord says there is not one particular thing that enabled sophomore Jordan Aumiller to win the starting tight end job to open the season for the second straight year.
"I think he has picked up on the offense. He has gotten stronger and he has come to work every day and played better. I have been really pleased with the way he has improved his game," said Nord, UK's tight ends coach. "He's improved a lot of things. Being stronger after dedicating himself to a summer with (strength coach) Rock (Oliver) would help anybody. Then just being more mature and more experienced has helped."
Aumiller had 18 catches for 193 yards and one touchdown last year while playing in all 13 games with eight starts. He was named a fourth-team Freshman All-American by Phil Steele's College Football even though he could barely raise his arms the final portion of the season due to injuries in both shoulders that limited his mobility and strength.
Nord constantly pushed him last year to improve, and that won't change for the former Boyle County star despite getting the start against Western Kentucky Thursday night in Nashville.
"His coach is still doing that. I am not going to let him relax. I think he has finally come to the conclusion that I am only going to push him like that to make him the best player he can be," Nord said. "I think everything that we saw last year has been improved on. We have to continue to develop him as a complete tight end whether it be pass catching or blocking or just his knowledge of the game.
"He has gotten tougher. He has realized this is part of our craft and he has to do that to be good. He has gotten tougher and more willing to get in there. Certainly he has gotten more confidence with his strength."
Nord admits it is not easy for a player to become "tougher" in college.
"It is not easy. That is probably why there were a few days when you interviewed him that he didn't like me last year. I stayed the course of trying to help him develop that and he stayed the course taking coaching," Nord said.
Greg Nord discusses Jordan Aumiller
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