The last time Owensboro’s Austin Gough walked off of Kroger Field in Lexington, it was after the Red Devils lost the KHSAA Class 5A State Championship to the Bowling Green Purples. But Gough now has a chance at something not everyone gets in their life.
Gough has accepted a preferred walk-on spot with the Kentucky Wildcats as he’ll be in the blue and white next fall in Lexington.
“It’s always been my dream to play at the next level, especially at UK,” he said. “When I got that opportunity, I just felt my dreams align and I saw this opportunity as my way.”
Gough said it hasn’t set in yet that he’ll be a Wildcat next season.
“It’s insane,” he said. “It doesn’t even feel real right now. People come up to me and are like ‘You’re going to Kentucky. That’s huge,’” he said. “I’m going there but gosh I’m actually going there. I’m going to be at football practices with guys I was literally just watching on TV a year and going to pay to go watch them in the stands.
“It’s huge, it’s very exciting. It’s a dream come true. I’m just ready to go to work.”
To have that chance at redemption, Gough knows it’s special.
But he added he wouldn’t be where he is without the defeats along the way.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “You need the losses to make the wins even better. Just to lose a big game game, especially at a place where I’m going to be spending a lot of time these next few years, I feel like it’ll set a fire in me every time I get back on the field. Knowing how it feels to lose, it’ll push me even more.”
Gough had a few teams offer him scholarships coming into his senior season but after an injury during his junior season and a pandemic, his opportunities dwindled.
Two schools still had scholarship offers to Gough after the season but he admitted he was still concerned heading into his final campaign as a Red Devil.
“I was very worried,” he said. “When I broke my leg, my junior year, recruitment was already in jeopardy just because missing your big junior season. Then Covid came along and took away spring ball and summer camps. Eligibility for (college) seniors was added on for an extra year and obviously I was very nervous about my opportunities to get money to play at the next level where I’d be able to play.
“I always knew whatever was going to happen is going to happen for the right reasons and God always has a plan. I just stuck by that the whole time.”
Next up for Gough is training and getting ready for the next level.
He said he’s focused on a lot running, along with speed and agility.
“Hopefully when I get there, they’ll blow me up even more,” he said.
For someone like Gough who enjoys the grind, he’s excited about the chance and he even got some advice from a former Red Devil.
“Talking with Logan Blue, being a preferred walk on, he said one of the best parts was being able to stay in shape all through college and build yourself up in ways you never thought you could,” he said. “I’m that type of person. I’m honestly a workout person. That’s my true passion and to be able to get to go grind at those facilities is huge and I’m very excited about that.”
Gough has been through a lot the past few years. From an injury potentially derailing his career to a pandemic, the Owensboro senior has pushed through.
He said he has some advice for younger players that have had difficult times like he did.
“Don’t take it for granted,” he said. “Work in silence. When your opportunity comes, shoot because you never know when it’s going to get taken away.”