Entering portal was a business decision for UK’s Geiger

Published 12:06 pm Wednesday, December 6, 2023

By LARRY VAUGHT

Contributing Columnist

It was nothing more than a “football decision” that led Kentucky safety Jalen Geiger to put his name into the transfer portal.

He’s been at Kentucky five years and in 11 games last season had four tackles, five assists and a fumble recovery he returned 69 yards for a touchdown against Ball State in the season opener.

“He loves the community. Look at his total body of work as a student-athlete,” said Tony Geiger, Jalen’s father.

He was named to the SEC Community Service Good Works Team and was a nominee for the Wuerffel Trophy based on his community service. That never changed even when he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Florida in 2022.

“This was just a football decision,” Tony Geiger said. “My son still has a desire to get a shot to play on Sundays (in the NFL). Unfortunately, he did not feel him being at Kentucky next year would be the clearest path to that goal.

“He has had a good time here. All his teammates were so welcoming when he came to Kentucky and he paid that forward to younger guys on and off the field. He just feels transferring is necessary. It’s a business decision and nothing personal.”

Jalen Geiger has never been “caught up in the glitz” of NIL or social media.

“He just wants to be a good Christian and teammate like he did at Kentucky,” Tony Geiger said. “I hope and pray Big Blue Nation appreciates what he was able to contribute to the program.

“I know fans can be fans when a player leaves but he gave five years to Big Blue Nation and I hope the fans know how much we appreciate them. He will always be a Wildcat. He is an alumni (with a degree in health, society and populations who is working on a second degree in communication).”

Big Blue Nation will also miss Tony Geiger and his wife, Ramona. He’s been president of the UK football parent club for three of his son’s five years in Lexington. The Geigers live in Columbia, South Carolina, but did not miss a UK game home or away.

“Sure it is a mixed bag of emotions for me, too,” Tony Geiger said. “We’ve met a lot of wonderful families and have become friends for life with some of the parents. I bid my farewell to 220 of them that I communicated with every week. My phone was very active the first day (after his son announced he was transferring) but I am very grateful for the responses.

“Jalen was one of three remaining players from his recruiting class. We are a military family and are very loyal. We prayed on this and he just thought entering the portal was best for him. He thanked his coaches in person.”

Because he’s a grad transfer, Geiger could immediately start communicating with other schools.

“We are going to put this in God’s hands and find a good fit for our son. He will go wherever that is and be the best athlete he can be,” Tony Geiger said. “He knows proximity to our home is not part of the equation. Wherever God sends him will be fine. We will get there. We have never missed a game in our life and won’t now.”

Tony Geiger said the family will be “forever grateful” to UK coach Mark Stoops along with recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow who got Geiger to UK.

Geiger will not play in UK’s bowl game.

“I told all the other parents we would be cheering them on,” Tony Geiger said. “I turned my whole house blue in Columbia. I have a UK flag at the house. Kentucky is part of his and our legacy. We will be Wildcats forever.”