Former UK QB Couch to be honored with statue in hometown

Published 3:47 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2024

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Tim Couch is very proud of his eastern Kentucky roots and knows his upbringing helped push him to the level where he’s now going into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Couch was a record-setting quarterback at Leslie County High School before he became a national phenom at Kentucky under coach Hal Mumme.

“That community has supported me and lifted me up,” said Couch. “It motivated me to want to make people from there proud of me. It’s unreal to think being from a town of 350 people that you can break national records, become an all-American and be the No. 1 pick (in the 1999 NFL draft). Their support pushed me to work harder and represent Leslie County and that part of the state.”

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That’s why he was a bit overwhelmed when he found out a Leslie County alumni club wanted to have a statue built honoring him. The idea came from Allen Rice, the creator of The Eagles Nest, an alumni club designed to preserve the history, promote the present, and inspire the future of Leslie County.

Landry Collett, Couch’s former high school teammate, loved the idea of a statue honoring his friend and knew Couch would as well.

“We knew we had to get Tim to approve it. Me, Rice and (Leslie football) coach (Eddie) Melton went to Lexington to have lunch with him. I know Tim was thinking we were going to ask him to pay for the statue and he almost broke down and cried when he found out we didn’t want any money from him because we are going to raise the money,” Collett said.

The alumni group had no idea at the time it would be only a few weeks before Couch’s election to the College Football Hall of Fame would be announced.

“About 5.7 million people have played college football, and only 1,093 have now been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and now Tim is one of them,” Collett said. “I played with him for one year. We did some crazy things and after I graduated he kept doing even more to where he became one of the best players ever to play high school or college football.”

Couch said playing high school football with his childhood friends was special. He enjoyed playing at Kentucky with players from across the state and country, but it was not like his Leslie County years.

“There’s just something special about playing with guys you went to kindergarten with and knew all your life,” Couch said. “We did things no one had done and I got to do it with my friends.”

Couch said The Eagles Nest is going to work with him on picking a pose for the 7-foot bronze statue.

“I am just blown away by all this. I am so honored,” Couch said.

Leslie County has a new football facility and Collett anticipates people “coming from all over” to see the Couch statue when it is unveiled during the 2024 season.

“There’s just not a lot of great things that happen in this area. If you win here they never forget you and everybody certainly remembers Tim Couch,” Collett said.

Kentucky fans feel the same way because of the excitement Couch brought to the UK program in the 1997 and 1998 seasons before he left for the NFL.

“Anybody who wants to contribute to funding the statue can,” Collett said. “Just call Leslie County High School (606 672 2337) and tell them you want to make a donation to the football boosters for the statue.”