Jeremy Jarmon was supposed to be using this time to get ready for his final fall camp as a University of Kentucky Wildcat. But a sudden change of plans has him preparing for a jump to the National Football League.
Jarmon, a defensive end who was third on the UK all-time sack list, was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for testing positive for a banned substance in March. He is now working out in Nashville in preparation for the NFL Supplemental Draft, which will be held on July 16. Jarmon will work out for NFL teams on the UK campus July 9 and then set up individual workouts in the week leading up to the draft.
Jarmon considered several options, including returning to school and waiting for the 2010 NFL Draft and playing his final year at an NAIA school. But he decided to opt for the supplemental draft, which is designed for players who have lost their collegiate eligibility.
"I just felt like the supplemental draft was the best situation for me," Jarmon said. "I wish it would have come a year from now, but I'm excited about the opportunity. I'm in Nashville working hard trying to get in the best shape I can, because I've got to go into this thing as ready as possible."
Jarmon held a news conference on May 22 and said that he took a dietary supplement not knowing it contained a banned substance. While he said he tested negative in a later test, his appeal to the NCAA was still denied.
The ruling brought a wide range of opinions from fans, coaches and national media, many of whom questioned how a player with a high-character reputation like Jarmon could be penalized so severely for what appeared to be an honest mistake.
Jarmon said he was disappointed with the NCAA's decision but said he understood why the ruling was made.
"The NCAA, in my opinion, tries to be as fair as possible when passing down decisions because it rules based on precedent," Jarmon said. "So from their standpoint, it's always a tough decision to overturn a case. If you go back and look at the facts from a lot of other cases, my situation does have variables that were completely different from others. But they don't want to necessarily look at cases individually. It's more of a collective thing, and by doing that they feel like they're protecting everyone's interests in the fairest way possible."
After talking with UK officials, Jarmon decided against revealing the substance he took or where it was purchased.
"It was a situation where there was already negative publicity, and that would have just added negative publicity for the store and maker of the supplement," he said.
Jarmon said that he would advise his former teammates and other athletes to never make assumptions when it comes to over-the-counter products.
"One thing that I've found out is there's a lot of things on the NCAA's list (of banned substances), over-the-counter things that you might not even think about," Jarmon said. "If I had a sinus infection, I couldn't just go get regular Sudafed. I'd have to get Sudafed without ephedrine.
"You can't make assumptions like that because you go into a store that it's acceptable for you to take it. I read a Sports Illustrated article where someone went out and bought a bunch of over-the-counter supplements, and it turned out a large percentage of them contained substances that were banned by the NCAA, NFL, Major League Baseball and the Olympics."
Jarmon's absence leaves the Wildcats with a gaping hole at defensive end. UK has no ends on its roster who have made a tackle in a collegiate game. But Jarmon said he thinks the UK defense will ultimately be able to overcome his loss and pointed to a solid trio of senior defensive players — linebacker Micah Johnson, defensive back Trevard Lindley and defensive tackle Corey Peters.
"They'll be fine," Jarmon said. "I really think they'll be able to overcome it. I think Corey will do a great job of anchoring the D-line and getting those young guys to learn to how to play with him. I'm very confident that the defensive line is going to do well."
All 32 teams have an opportunity to make a selection in the supplemental draft but would lose their draft pick in the corresponding round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The supplemental draft is done by e-mail, with each team submitting to the league the name of the player or players they are interested in along with the round of the supplemental draft they would like to choose them. The team that submits the highest bid is awarded rights to the player. Jarmon said the Eagles are among several teams who have called and expressed interest, and he's scheduled to fly to Philadelphia on Tuesday to meet with the coaching staff and discuss their defensive scheme.
Jarmon seemed in good spirits, and said the support he's gotten from friends, family and fans helped him quickly bounce back from the disappointment of losing his senior year.
"I got all kinds of Facebook messages, calls, texts, not only from UK fans, but from fans from other schools," Jarmon said. "Louisville, South Carolina; it made me feel really good that people who didn't even know me were there to support me. That helped me rebound and get back on my feet, and now I'm ready to take the next step."