LEXINGTON, Ky. — Think you know everything about the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry? UK junior walk-on linebacker Spencer Foy could probably still teach you a thing or two.
Foy, a Louisville native, initially committed to Western Kentucky while he starred for St. Xavier High School. When coach Bobby Petrino left WKU for Louisville, Foy’s commitment followed.
He spent a year at U of L, but while visiting former St. X teammate Charles Walker, a UK wide receiver, Foy noticed something in Lexington.
“I saw how close him and his teammates were,” Foy said. “I just really wanted to be a part of something like that, because that’s what we had back at St. X.”
Foy, who grew up a Louisville fan, did what some might consider unthinkable: He left his home-city school for its archrival.
As his third season as a Wildcat nears an end, Foy said he has no regrets.
“Didn’t really fit in (at Louisville). Didn’t really like it as much,” Foy said. “Then came here and just fell in love with the place and the whole culture Coach Stoops has going on here and just everything as a whole.”
After appearing in three games as a true freshman for the Cardinals, Foy had to start from scratch again in Lexington.
He sat out the 2015 season as a transfer and has yet to appear in a game as a Wildcat. That doesn’t mean his impact has not been felt in the locker room and on the practice field.
“What he brings to our room . from a chemistry standpoint you can’t measure it,” UK outside linebackers coach Dean Hood said. “Because our guys know his work ethic, because our guys know his toughness, because our guys know his commitment, when he’s in that room with us there’s just a better unity.
“Quietly, I think he challenges kids that are incredibly gifted. I think when kids that are incredibly gifted see guys like Spencer that have that workman’s mentality, that hard-hat mentality, that blue-collar, come-to-work-every-day-and-I’m-going-to-give-my-best-no matter-what mentality, I think that just makes your room very cohesive and very unified.”
Along the way, Foy has learned more about himself as well.
“It’s been awesome,” Foy said. “It made me realize that playing time is not the biggest thing about this team. I like my role on the team here, just being a family with everyone.”
As a senior, Foy totaled 120 tackles with two interceptions and two forced fumbles for St. X. He was named honorable mention all-state by the Associated Press and received an invitation to the 2013 Best of the Bluegrass Bowl.
“He was wonderful,” Walker said. “He flew around the ball. Definitely, he was a team leader and was very vocal. He just loves the game. That’s why he’s come here and he’s been on our scout team and given us really good looks.”
Foy grew up in a house divided. While he and his father and brothers were Louisville fans, his mother and her side of the family rooted for Kentucky.
Even now with a son at Kentucky, Foy’s father, Keenan, refuses to wear blue, Foy said. His compromise is to wear a gray UK shirt while rooting for his son’s team.
Foy, who did not play against Kentucky as a freshman at Louisville, is unlikely to see the field for the Wildcats’ regular-season finale against the Cardinals on Saturday.
Like basketball player Marvin Stone, who started his collegiate career at Kentucky and finished it at Louisville, Foy has a rare perspective on both sides of the rivalry, though.
“Everyone hates each other’s guts,” he said. “Everyone focuses on a week at a time, but in the back of their minds, they’re always focusing on that last game of the year, the rivalry game. It means so much.”
Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com