Professional News

Game Changers: 4 CHS athletic training alumni headed to NFL playoffs

Gabe Amponsah (top left), Naohisa Inoue (top right), Jon Boone (bottom left), Tabani Richards (bottom right)
Gabe Amponsah (top left), Naohisa Inoue (top right), Jon Boone (bottom left), Tabani Richards (bottom right)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 12, 2024) — It’s probable that those in the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences’ (CHS) Department of Athletic Training and Clinical Nutrition will be rooting for the Bills, Dolphins and Steelers when the NFL playoffs start this weekend.


Because of the 14 teams that made this year’s playoffs, the CHS athletic training academic program has alumni on three of them — Buffalo, Miami and Pittsburgh. It’s another example of the program’s success, officials say.

“We are so proud of all of our alumni and their accomplishments,” said Phillip Gribble, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Athletic Training and Clinical Nutrition. “It illustrates again that our department produces amazingly successful athletic trainers, whether they work in careers in scholastic and collegiate sports, industry, military and tactical populations, or even at the highest levels of professional sports.

"These are the kinds of graduates who are representing this department and the College — and it’s an exciting time to be in athletic training here at the University of Kentucky.”

Two of the alumni are on teams that will be playing each other in the first round. Another team features two alumni on staff.

They are:

  • Gabe Amponsah (MS, Athletic Training) Head Athletic Trainer, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Naohisa Inoue (MS, Athletic Training) Associate Athletic Trainer, Miami Dolphins
  • Jon Boone (MS, Athletic Training) Director of Rehabilitation, Assistant Athletic Trainer, Miami Dolphins
  • Tabani Richards, (MS, Athletic Training) Assistant Athletic Trainer, Buffalo Bills

Kyle Johnston, the head athletic trainer for the Miami Dolphins, is also an alumnus of the University of Kentucky. As an undergraduate, he majored in Kinesiology-Exercise Science in the UK College of Education Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion. The program offers science-based courses in the field of health and wellness as well as performance-based courses. 

If Richards’ name sounds familiar, it is because he was part of the Bills' athletic training staff that saved the life of Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin last year after the player collapsed on the field following a tackle in a Monday Night Football game against Cincinnati.

Richards and the rest of the Bills staff received multiple recognitions and honors, again displaying how important their roles are to the players and the team.

Now, they’re all ready to continue their seasons, with hopes of making it to Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas.

The Miami Dolphins will travel to Kansas City at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 13, while the Steelers will travel to Buffalo at 1 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 14.

“One of the best ways to illustrate the success of a department is to showcase its alumni,” said Scott Lephart, Ph.D., and Dean of the College of Health Sciences. “We have always known that our athletic training academic program is one of the best in the country. The faith these institutions have placed in our successful graduates is another great example that we can use to continue to spread the word. Congratulations to all — and I can’t wait to watch a little football this weekend.”

The College of Health Science and the Department of Athletic Training and Clinical Nutrition is now a de facto one-stop shop for those interested in the career, offering undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. This includes the newest accelerated 3 + 2 option, where students enrolled in the Human Health Sciences pre-athletic training track can earn a Bachelor of Science in Human Health Sciences and a Master of Science in Athletic Training in just five years.

“Simply put, if you want to be an athletic trainer, you can complete your path to practice and advance your academic career and clinical experiences here in the College of Health Sciences,” Gribble said. “You can enjoy an environment that includes major SEC sports, incredible precept opportunities around the area and some of the best faculty and staff in the country. We can’t wait to see you.”

Interested in the Athletic Training major? Visit

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

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