LEXINGTON, Ky. — Before he ran out of the tunnel at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the first time and heard the roar of almost 90,000 people who’d come to see him get torn apart by the Gators at The Swamp, Will Levis checked his phone. Kentucky’s star quarterback had a text message from his mother, Beth. A former All-American soccer player at Yale, she knew well the weight of this moment, the size of the stakes, as her son and his team both aimed to validate a summer of unprecedented hype. You could think of it like that and be paralyzed by the pressure, or you could step back and mark this as the major milestone it was, win or lose. Beth Levis, having seen her son rise from three-year backup at Penn State to become the face of a nationally ranked SEC program, a likely NFL draft pick and in-demand commercial pitchman, obviously chose the latter.
“Just take a moment to reflect back a year, two years,” she wrote him before Kentucky’s game against Florida on Sept. 10. “I know you always had confidence that you would get to where you are, but wow, you are there now. Everything from here on out is extra, is gravy. So enjoy it, embrace it, and smile. All you put into it, all the preparation, just let it guide you and take over and flow in a natural state, because you’ve done all the work. Now just have fun.