Boyle’s Ziesmer ready for SEC grind at UK

Published 4:00 am Friday, December 16, 2022


Contributing writer

Tommy Ziesmer has a new contract, but the terms are the same.

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The Boyle County standout has signed — ceremonially, at least — the paperwork that sets the stage for the next phase of his football career.

He is headed for Kentucky in a matter of weeks, having affirmed his commitment Tuesday in a signing ceremony that he said afforded him both relief and renewal.

“It’s kind of like a relief, because now I’ve signed, I’m set in stone, I’m going to UK, so everybody knows that,” Ziesmer said. “Now it feels like I have a new contract to grind and be the best player I can for UK.”

That’s exactly how Ziesmer became a major college prospect in the first place, and Boyle coach Justin Haddix said Ziesmer’s work ethic won’t change once he gets to Lexington.

“All four years he’s been in high school he’s played at a place with great expectations, he’s played at a place that works hard,” Haddix said. “He’s been doing the 6:30 a.m. workouts. … He’s more of a college-ready player than a lot of players.”

Ziesmer, a 6-2, 240-pound defensive end, will enroll at Kentucky next month, giving him seven months in the program prior to his freshman season.

He can’t officially sign a letter of intent until Wednesday, the first day of the Division I early signing period, but he held the ceremony Tuesday so he could share the moment with teammates before Christmas break and before he leaves high school

“It’s just a very exciting experience,” he said.

Ziesmer was surrounded by family members as well as teammates, friends and coaches at Tuesday’s ceremony. He committed to Kentucky in June, and he said he’s thrilled to have the chance to play for his home state’s flagship school.

“I’ve watched UK since I was little,” he said. “I’ve been to every home game for the past few years … and it almost feels like I’m becoming part of their new family.”

He said there’s also a feeling of familiarity because Kentucky defensive coordinator Brad White employs many of the same sets and formations Boyle uses.

“The coaches have put me in situations where I’ve done that, and I won’t be too out of whack with what I’m supposed to do,” Ziesmer said.

Ziesmer said he has known for some time that he wanted to enroll early in college, and he said he’ll be ready to get to work as soon as he arrives on campus next month.

“First off, I want to hit the weight room,” he said. “I want to get bigger, stronger and faster so I can be able to compete with those boys that have been there for years.

“I know when I get there I’m not going to be as fluid in my movements as people who have been there for a while, so I just want to work on my technique, get better and show the coaches what I can do.”

Haddix said enrolling early will help Ziesmer.

“He’s going to get a whole spring practice, a whole (semester) in the weight room to really get adjusted before he has to play,” the Boyle coach said.

Ziesmer was the leader of a defense that helped Boyle win its third consecutive Class 4A championship earlier this month. He led the Rebels with 20 tackles for loss and nine sacks this season, and he had 30 sacks in his high school career.

He had the winning touchdown in the state championship game, scoring on a 7-yard run to break a fourth-quarter tie.

Ziesmer spent most of this season as a two-way player, playing on an offensive line that was wracked by injuries.

“I mentioned to Tommy that for us to win and get the best out of our team, we’re going to need you to play offensive line, too, (and he said,) ‘I got you, Coach,’” Haddix said. “That’s just the kid that he is and the kid that I’m going to miss.”

Haddix said Ziesmer was willing to make that sacrifice even though it meant he might not be at his best on defense even as he faced double-teams from opposing linemen eager to make a name for themselves by beating him.

“I wanted to win as bad as they did, and I’ll do anything for the team,” Ziesmer said. “You see what happened, we got that ring.”

Boyle defensive coordinator Travis Burns, Ziesmer’s position coach for the past three seasons, said Ziesmer has risen to every challenge put before him.

“Tommy has had every excuse in life to do this and do that, and he’s never used them,” Burns said. “He’s always competed, he’s always grinded. He knew what he wanted, and that’s just a testament to his character and his ability.”

Haddix said he can’t wait to see the player Ziesmer becomes in a few years.

“He is the most talented kid I’ve ever coached just as far as all the things he can do, how fast he is, how strong he is, what he does in the weight room,” Haddix said. “Obviously it’s a step up in the SEC, but the sky’s the limit for Tommy.”