The Kentucky Wildcats got a massive win on Saturday night as they defeated the 10th-ranked Florida Gators 20-13 with a goal-line stand in the closing seconds for their first home win over the Gators since 1986.
One player that had an outstanding performance was J.J. Weaver, who received redemption for the awful year that was 2020.
Before Weaver took the field for the Cats that year, he faced tragedy. His father, Terrance, was murdered in a June home invasion.
Then in Kentucky’s matchup with the Gators that, Weaver was covering tight end Kyle Pitts when he fell to the ground with a season-ending knee injury.
Weaver suffered so many losses in 2020, but Mark Stoops, Brad White, and his teammates “came in together as a family, so that made me open up more, made me mature a lot. It made me believe in the system.” Weaver said Saturday.
With the Gators coming to town on Saturday, Weaver was getting his shot at redemption. It was a game that meant a lot to the state, program, team, and especially to Weaver himself.
“This game meant the world to me. I tore my ACL. My father passed. I had to show off for my team tonight. I told them, ‘Believe in me. This is a game I really need.’ I’ve been down the last year, so this game was more than a football game to me. This game was like the world, for real.”
Weaver spent the week watching a ton of film leading up to the game. In the 4th quarter, Weaver came up with a massive interception for the Cats.
Instead of playing zone, Weaver recognized a Florida play from film study and told Carrington Valentine he was matching up man-to-man on the tight end. That decision worked out pretty well.
“I watched film all week. The tight end’s going to go straight up to a vert. I under-cut it and took off from there. Kyle Pitts did me dirty last year, tore my ACL, so y’all know what’s up.”
Weaver used everything he had been through in 2020 as fuel for the matchup with the Gators, and it paid off as he helped the defense shine in a history-making win for the Wildcats in Kroger Field.
For his efforts, Weaver has been named a nominee for the 2021 Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award, it was announced Tuesday. You can read more about that nomination here.