Olin Buchanan Rivals.com College Football Senior Writer
FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Kentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon only wanted to lose a few pounds. Instead, he lost his final season of eligibility.
He wanted to set an example. Instead, he feels as if he has been made one.
That's why Jarmon, suspended by the NCAA after a failed drug test in the spring, is working hard at the D-1 Training Center in this Nashville suburb in preparation for the NFL supplemental draft on July 16. Jarmon, Florida State wide receiver Corey Surrency and Central Michigan offensive lineman Joe McMahon are hoping to be selected.
Jarmon is focusing on strengthening his hips and adding an explosive quality to his pass rush by executing set after set of lunges while carrying 265 pounds of weights.
"I think when I show up on July 9 in Lexington [for a pro day workout], I will show them exactly what they're looking for," Jarmon said. "I definitely feel I have a lot to offer. I can play in a 4-3 or outside linebacker in a 3-4. I've worked hard and my [game] films speak for themselves."
Frankly, he'd rather be focusing his camera lens in a photography class in Paris.
"After the Liberty Bowl, I told Coach [Rich] Brooks I wanted to talk to him," Jarmon said. "He said, 'What's on your mind?' I told him I was thinking about studying in France over the summer. I wanted to take photography classes in Paris. He said, 'Does that mean you want to stay [for a senior season]?' "
He did. And Wildcats coaches rejoiced.
Jarmon was an All-SEC selection in 2007, when he was fourth in the league with nine sacks. He had a sore shoulder last season and managed just 4.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss, but he still was a key figure on a defense that also included cornerback Trevard Lindley, linebacker Micah Johnson and tackle Corey Peters in its nucleus.
Jarmon said he was so excited about the possibilities for the 2009 season that he wanted to set an example for his younger teammates. He planned to cut about 8 pounds from his 6-foot-3, 286-pound frame.
"Being a defensive lineman, I'm a bigger guy, period," Jarmon said. "But I wanted to be slimmer and fit. I wanted to lead by example. Some guys need to go on weight-loss programs, some need to go on weight-gain programs. I wanted to be an example and look the part."
Jarmon said he began taking fish oil and omega-3 tablets. He changed his diet and started eating turkey burgers, turkey bacon and turkey sausage. Yet he still was having trouble managing his weight because tendinitis in his left shoulder prevented him from working out. So, on advice from a clerk at a health-food store, Jarmon said he began taking a dietary supplement in early February; he said he was unaware the supplement included banned ingredients.
It was a bad move. A Kentucky spokesman said the university requires athletes to sign a policy in which they agree not to take any supplements without approval from a trainer or strength coach.
Jarmon said he took supplements because it's somewhat easier and more cost efficient than eating healthy.
"It's expensive to eat healthy," said Jarmon, a Memphis native. "I come from a well-off family, but I'm not going to ask my parents to pay for fresh tilapia. Instead of eating fish every night, I take supplements."
Jarmon admits he should have talked with Kentucky director of sports medicine Jim Madaleno before using the supplement, which he took for 15 days. When he finally talked with Madaleno, Jarmon was told to stop using the supplement immediately. A few days later, Jarmon took a random NCAA drug test.
"I came back from spring break and learned of my status," Jarmon said.
Kentucky appealed Jarmon's case while he remained suspended even though he said he passed another NCAA drug test several weeks later.
Jarmon said he believes his suspension would have been reduced – or even lifted – if he had been instructed to take the same supplement by Madaleno or a trainer. A Kentucky spokesman said Madaleno has opted not to comment about Jarmon's situation because of student privacy laws.
"I learned through the process that it's OK for a member institution or for an adult to make a mistake," Jarmon said. "It's not OK if a student-athlete makes a mistake. Because I made a mistake as a 21-year-old, it cost me my eligibility. If someone had made the decision for me, I wouldn't have been suspended."
Jarmon is an eloquent speaker and has a gregarious personality, traits that makes him likeable. Thus, when he claims he didn't know he had taken an illegal substance – and asserts that he'd never before taken anything illegal – you want to believe him. You hope there still are athletes who won't resort to breaking rules to be successful. You want to believe it was an honest mistake.
Then you remember all the athletes who have failed drug tests in recent years and how they maintained – even trumpeted – their disdain for performance-enhancing drugs right up until (and in many cases after) tests revealed otherwise. And you also wonder why Jarmon refuses to reveal the product he was taking or the store where it was purchased.
"I just don't want to say," he said. "It would be bad publicity for the place. I told NFL teams what the product was and where I purchased it. It's not a big issue. It's behind me now."
Kentucky appealed Jarmon's suspension, and he thought he'd have a chance to have some or all of the suspension lifted. He thought that proved his case.
Obviously, that wasn't enough. So instead of taking photos in Paris and getting ready to help Kentucky's bid for a fourth consecutive bowl appearance, he's hoping to land a job in the NFL, where the minimum rookie salary is $285,000.
Each week, we'll match two teams to determine which has the edge in various categories. Got a matchup you want to see? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll work on it.
Georgia prevailed 21-14 in the 1993 Citrus Bowl, which is the only meeting between the teams.
2. First-round NFL draft choices
Georgia: 26 (most recently QB Matthew Stafford by Detroit and RB Knowshon Moreno by Denver in 2009).
Ohio State: 69 (most recently CB Malcolm Jenkins by New Orleans and RB Chris Wells by Arizona in 2009).
Edge: Ohio State (The Buckeyes have had more first-round selections than any program.)
3. Heisman recipients
Georgia: Frank Sinkwich in 1942, Herschel Walker in 1982.
Ohio State: Les Horvath in 1944, Vic Janowicz in 1950, Howard Cassady in 1955, Archie Griffin in 1974 and '75, Eddie George in 1995, Troy Smith in 2006.
Edge: Ohio State.
4. Super Bowl MVPs
Georgia: Miami S Jake Scott (1973), Denver RB Terrell Davis (1998), Pittsburgh WR Hines Ward (2006).
Ohio State: Pittsburgh WR Santonio Holmes (2009)
Georgia: Uga, a pure white English bulldog. One of the Ugas once tried to bite an Auburn wide receiver who scored a touchdown.
Ohio State: Brutus Buckeye has an enlarged head that resembles – duh – a buckeye – and wears a cap with an "O" inscribed.
6. Star freshman RB whose college career ended prematurely
Georgia: Herschel Walker rushed for 5,259 yards from 1980-82, led the Bulldogs to a national championship in his freshman year and signed a contract with the USFL before his senior year.
Ohio State: Maurice Clarett rushed for 1,237 yards and 16 touchdowns to lead Ohio State to the 2002 national championship in his freshman year. But after a series of controversial incidents, he was dismissed from Ohio State before his sophomore season.
Edge: Georgia (Walker eventually went on to a successful pro career. Clarett eventually went to prison.)
7. Initialed rock bands
Georgia: R.E.M. The Athens-based band was one of the legendary alternative bands of the '80s and '90s.
Ohio State: O.A.R. The Columbus-based jam band has gained recent popularity on TV shows and in frat houses across the country.
Edge: Georgia (R.E.M. has three albums listed among Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of all time.)
8. Baseball announcers
Georgia: Chip Caray has worked as play-by-play announcer of the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves.
Ohio State: Jack Buck was the legendary voice of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Edge: Ohio State (The late Buck was one of the best ever. Had he not been given the edge readers no doubt would be saying, "I don't believe what I just saw.")
9. Helmet decals
Georgia: Big plays are rewarded with a dog-bone sticker.
Ohio State: Big plays are rewarded with a buckeye-leaf sticker.
Edge: Ohio State (Dog-bone stickers are fine, but the Buckeye leaves are as much a part of Ohio State's identity as Florida State's spear, Texas' longhorns and Michigan's winged helmets.)
10. National championships
Georgia: The Bulldogs won it all in 1980.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes won at least a share of the national title in 1942, '54, '57, '61, '68 and 2002.
Edge: Ohio State.
Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.