It’s been an amazing journey so far for Washington High School senior Tanner Lemaster and another chapter in his story is about to unfold.
Lemaster took another step toward his future on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, the National Letter of Intent Signing Day, signing to commit to play college football at the University of Kentucky.
Though Washington High School was closed for the holidays, Lemaster was joined there by a couple of dozen, or more, teammates and classmates, as well as his parents, siblings, grandparents and his great-grandmother, as well as the Superintendent of Washington City Schools, Dr. Tom Bailey, for the auspicious occasion.
Lemaster is a stand-out three-sport athlete at Washington High School, with prowess on the football field, the basketball court and the baseball diamond.
“When I was making my decision, it was all about where I felt most at home,” Lemaster said. “Where I felt my best fit was; where I felt I would play the most. Just overall, which program I thought fit me best. Kentucky just stood out. It was pretty much a no-brainer at the end.”
Some of the other schools interested in having Lemaster play for them included Miami of Ohio, Cincinnati, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, Lemaster said.
When asked who was his favorite teacher in high school, Lemaster said, “I wouldn’t say a teacher, but, my favorite person in the whole building was Mr. (Tracy) Rose while he was here. He and I had a really good relationship.”
Lemaster had at least two favorite moments from his high school career that came to mind.
“Definitely my favorite (sports) memory in high school was when we came back and won against Trace my sophomore year (the 2020 season),” Lemaster said. “I made that big (touchdown) catch at the end. That was one of my favorite ones.
“Then, one of my favorite memories was definitely going to the Sweet 16 in baseball (the Blue Lions won a District championship in the 2022 season),” Lemaster said. “That was just a great group of guys that we had. That was probably my favorite team I’ve ever been on in all of sports. I just don’t think the bond that we had will be able to be replaced.
“I want to thank the Lord for getting me to this spot,” Lemaster said. “Without Him, none of this would be possible.
“I want to thank my parents, my family,” Lemaster said. “I have probably the best family I could ever ask for. They support me more than anyone would ever know. They do so much for me that nobody ever sees.
“I want to thank all my teammates and all my coaches for getting me here, too,” Lemaster said. “They pushed me. They saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.
“When I was a kid, (going to play Division I college football) wasn’t even thought of,” Lemaster said. “I never thought I would be here. I didn’t even play football when I was in the seventh grade. I played all the way up until then. I stopped my seventh grade year because I wanted to play baseball. When I was young, this would never have even been a thought. I’m just really blessed to be in this spot.
“I just can’t thank everyone enough.”
“Tanner has been such a joy, just to watch him develop,” Washington head coach Chuck Williamson said. “From, for lack of a better word, an awkward, big kid. Tanner epitomizes our program. That’s what we want to be all about. He came in and he developed.
“All the credit goes to him,” Williamson said. “He worked hard. I think the last big-time recruit to come out of Washington Court House was Mark Bihl in 2002. So, this is a huge accomplishment for Tanner. It’s all him. He put the work in. He wanted to be great and he worked at it. He just kept working at it and working at it.
“I can’t tell you how many nights he and Troy (Thompson, Blue Lion senior quarterback) would stay after everyone was gone,” Williamson said. “I would be out there with them and they would keep throwing and throwing, ball after ball. Tanner would say, ‘okay, let’s work on this. If this guy takes this away from me, we’re going to do this.’
“Hats off to him, I’m so proud of him,” Williamson said. “It breaks my heart that I couldn’t be there with him today, but I just texted him. I’m so proud of him and what he’s accomplished. I told him, ‘hey, don’t forget me when you’re playing on Sunday’s.’
“He’s a special kid,” Williamson said. “He gets it done in the classroom. He just does everything the right way.”
Lemaster plans to study business finance at Kentucky.