Vol kicker Medley lives a dream
Almost every boy that grows up in the great state of Tennessee and straps on shoulder pads during the fall dreams of running through the "T" and playing for the home state Vols, but very few get that opportunity.
Aaron Medley, a former Marshall County Tiger, not only got the opportunity, but is excelling in Knoxville.
Following another standout season in which the Marshall County native finished with 11 field goals in 16 tries, a perfect 56-for-56 on PAT and a perfect a career best 42 touchbacks on kickoffs, Medley will return for a senior season in which he could rewrite the Volunteer record books.
"My senior year will be fun," Medley said. "Visiting all the places one last time including Neyland (Stadium) will be sentimental."
"This year was different," Medley continued. "I didn't have very many pressure kicks or many attempts. Most were chip shots. I had a few opportunities with long field goals but wasn't able to convert. Not a bad season at all going 11-for-16, but I'm not satisfied. Most NFL kickers are going 90 percent plus on the year and that is the next step for me."
Part of the recent renaissance of the Vols, Medley has been instrumental in three straight bowl games after a long drought and after a 5-0 start to the 2016 season, Tennessee lost four of its last seven but regained its composure in Medley's return home to Middle Tennessee in the Music City Bowl victory over Nebraska.
"It was great being back in Nashville," Medley said. "I can remember going to a Titans game when I was a kid and seeing Rob Bironas hit a 61-yard game winner versus the Colts."
"And then later on going to the Music City bowl when Tennessee played UNC," Medley added. "It will be a game that I always will remember. I knew of a few family friends that went to the game but I think for everyone at home it was good to see a local Marshall county resident play close to home and of course get the win."
The 2016 season saw Medley set career highs in four single game categories, most PATs (10), touchbacks (7), kickoffs (10), and longest field goal attempt (58 yards) and the rising senior has started every game (39) since setting foot in Knoxville.
Medley is also near the career records in made field goals (52), percentage (.718), while holding the record with points in a season (118), third in field goals in a season (21), tied for first in attempts in a season (51), all of which have the Lewisburg native thinking about a career in the NFL after college.
"I do want to play at the next level and for me to do that I have to fix the small details and get much stronger," Medley said. "Kickoffs have to be touchbacks at least 80 percent of the time and a field goal should be automatic inside of 50 yards."
"But more importantly it's finding the right team at the right time. I am still searching for the long field goal and I think this last year will be one to remember."
Much like Medley's former teammate Chris Walker now playing at Cornell, the Volunteer kicker realizes that if the NFL comes calling it's always good to place importance on academics to ensure a degree if playing at the next level falls through.
"I am majoring in sports management with a minor is business administration," Medley mentioned. "Having homework the Friday night before a game can be tricky. Even more so with midterms during a season. I would say during the season more time is devoted to football."
"I try to get to bed at a decent hour so that I am not sleepy during the week for practice. Most of the time I try to get ahead on work before the weekend hits so I can focus on the game. Sundays are rest days and I usually sleep in," Medley laughed.
Along with Walker, Kacy Pleas and Jay Murphy, Medley has made a point of coming to see his former team play on Friday night when the Vols have an off week.
"I always love coming back to (MCHS) games and relive the glory days back when I was there with old coaches and friends," Medley said. "If I can inspire just one individual then I think I've accomplished something greater than the game. I think it shows that anybody can reach their dreams. Work Hard, stay humble and have fun are the mottos I live by."
With a senior season approaching with huge expectations for the Volunteers, Medley can be sure that all of Marshall County will be paying attention and cheering for the kicker from southern Middle Tennessee.