Boyle’s Ziesmer did it all for Rebels; lineman is committed to play at UK

Published 3:54 pm Thursday, December 8, 2022


Contributing columnist

Boyle County lineman Tommy Ziesmer might have to rethink his college career after what he did in the Class 4A state championship game Friday.

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Ziesmer is a University of Kentucky commit and ranked as one of the state’s best defensive linemen but he made the game-winning play in a 32-26 victory over Corbin as a running back. He broke tackles on a 7-yard scoring run — his only carry this season — early in the fourth quarter that turned out to be the final points in the game.

“I was not going to be denied on that play,” said Ziesmer. “I had to get that ball in the end zone. I just might have to turn into a running back.”

Boyle put that play in two weeks ago at the suggestion of assistant coach Travis Leffew. Since Ziesmer moved into the starting offensive line this season along with his regular duties on defense, he was not eligible to catch a pass.

“So the play got me the ball on a hand-off and I just had to run,” Ziesmer, who broke a tackle behind the line of scrimmage, said.

Ziesmer had five tackles, including three solo stops, and a tackle for loss in the second half. He also blocked an extra point that turned out big in the win.

“I think that was the third or fourth kick I have blocked this year. I always have things to get me free. Teams will game plan for me to be in one position but if I change spots it will ruin the play they have planned. I always move around a lot on defense so teams don’t always know where I am coming from.”

He had 37 solo tackles, 46 assists, 20 tackles for loss and nine sacks this season. He also forced three fumbles.

Ziesmer was playing at Kroger Field for the fourth straight year in a state title game — Boyle has won the last three — and said there was no extra pressure this year knowing he’s a UK football commit.

“I am at UK on game days. I have played there before,” Ziesmer said. “I hated it my freshman year when we lost (in the state final to Johnson Central) on that big stage with all the (college) coaches watching. Since then there has always been an extra grind not to lose and this year I definitely wanted to try and go out as one of the greatest players here and have my name remembered at school.”

That motivation is why he accepted the move to a full-time offensive lineman this season. He had been a part-time tight end before but injuries depleted the Boyle line early and when coach Justin Haddix needed him to go both ways, he did it.

“I am not going to lie. On offense I do not really like blocking. I am trying to attack and get to the quarterback type of player,” Ziesmer said. “But for the team I put that aside. Since my freshman year there have been some linemen here who go both ways, so this year it was just my time to do that for my team.”

Would he consider a move to the offensive line at Kentucky?

“If that is where they want me at, I will play that spot,” Ziesmer said.

He finished the season weighing about 245 pounds, the same weight he was when the year started.

“My weight at times was a problem but I just ate more and worked out more to keep my weight up,” he said.

He will be a January enrollee at UK after signing with the Wildcats later this month. He knows it will both be fun and hard work when he gets on campus and is anxious to start working with defensive line coach Anwar Stewart.

“UK has my best interest and coach Stewart is so energetic. Every time I see him he is so upbeat,” Ziesmer said. “I love his personality. He will get me even more motivated to do what I need to get me on the field. I know he can be tough but that is good coaching. I have seen him yell at a few guys but only to make them better.

“I like that. I have been grinding since January to be ready for this season and the bigger the game, the better I like it. That brings out everything I have. I have an extra gear and big games make me go even harder.”

Ziesmer is not exactly sure what role UK envisions for him but he would like a role similar to what former UK star/NFL rookie Josh Paschal had where he played in the line but made plays all over the field.

He’s looking forward to playing with Deone Walker, one of the nation’s best defensive linemen this season. He also said defensive lineman Octavious Oxendine of North Hardin  has been a mentor.

“He was my person on my visit and then we just started talking a lot more. He’s been a big help,” Ziesmer said. “I feel good about what Kentucky did this year. They had some injuries that really hurt but overall I liked what I saw.”