Johnson carries his love for hunting onto the football field

Published 10:49 am Friday, September 8, 2023

By Larry Vaught

Contributing Writer

Kentucky football commit Hayes Johnson of Taylor County is a bit different personality-wise than some elite athletes so it is no surprise that he has a “special” pair of shoes to wear this season.

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He contacted Billy Hobbs of True Blue Customs in April about a special pair of shoes and the two started working on some ideas. What the two came up with was a unique design for his Nike shoes.

“It’s kind of a goose-hunting theme blended with some camo (camouflage),” Johnson said. “I had seen in the NFL when players would have custom cleats but nothing quite like what I did.”

Johnson is an avid goose hunter and the Nike shoes highlight that. He wasn’t quite sure what Hobbs would design but thought they looked “amazing” and so did his teammates.

“I was with one of our inside linebackers when I got the pictures (of the shoes) and we were both like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I had no update or anything about what he was going to do with the goose theme but when they were finished I loved them,” he said.

“I just got one pair and was worried about them holding up but if it gets too bad I might switch out and just wear them for certain games. I have always loved adidas (shoes) but now every college but one or two is Nike and that is what the UK offensive line is using so I have got to switch and be ready to use them next year.”

Johnson’s only worry was how first-year Taylor coach Scott Parkey might react to his unique shoes. He worried that Parkey might not want one player standing out from the others with different shoes.

“I showed the shoes to him and he was fine. His son, Rex, picked me up and I showed Rex and Mrs. Parkey and they also liked them, so that helped,” Johnson said.

Taylor County is off to a 2-1 start going into Friday’s game at LaRue County. The UK offensive line commit – and one of the state’s top rated players – has even played some defense at times.

“I want to win and if I am supposed to be one of the best blockers in the state, then I am happy to do what I can on defense to help my team,” he said. “That is not what I am best at but I want to help my team and know they need me at times on defense.”

Johnson knows it will take a lot for his team to stop unbeaten Boyle, the three-time defending state champion, when the teams play in Campbellsville Sept. 15 to open Class 4A district play.

“The Boyle game is going to be one to be at,” Johnson said. “I don’t know how publicized it will be but I know how I feel about that game and I know how people around here feel. It’s going to have a big-game feel. We won’t have as many people as you will get at Kroger Field but our place will be packed and it should be a great atmosphere.”

The counties in light blue are the ones most affected by the $196 million in grant funding awarded from the Kentucky Broadband Deployment Fund. Internet service providers also contributed more than $190 million in matching funds.