UK's Danny Trevathan tackling the job of defensive leader

Phillips wants linebacker to be more vocal

ccosby@herald-leader.comNovember 4, 2010 

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Kentucky linebacker Danny Trevathan pulled down Chad Bumphis at Mississippi State Saturday. He leads the SEC with 97 tackles.

PABLO ALCALA

College and pro athletes often use Twitter and Facebook to vent, but University of Kentucky football player Danny Trevathan has taken a different approach.

Trevathan said he typically keeps his thoughts and feelings to himself, but his Twitter and Facebook pages are full of inspirational and motivational quotes, religious passages and constant references to his parents, Vincent and Michelle Hicks.

"I'm just trying to be a little more outgoing and share a little bit of me," Trevathan said. "I try not to say negative things. There's a lot of negative things around here. I try not to be one of those people. I was raised around a good family, a praying family, so I just try and take some of the positivity around me and pass it to other people."

Trevathan also uses the social network to squash any conclusions people might draw when they see his dreadlocks and gold-plated bottom set of teeth.

"A lot of people don't know who I am," he said. "In other words, people sometimes are quick to judge other people. A lot of people might see me, and they probably say something negative. It's stereotyping. But I don't hate people. I just go along with it until they get to know me."

Trevathan has shown what he's all about on the field. He's having a first-team All-Southeastern Conference type of season. He's leading the league in tackles (97) and ranks sixth in tackles for loss (101/2). Trevathan is somewhat small for a linebacker (listed at 6-foot-1, 223 pounds), but he flies around the field, sheds blocks with relative ease and always seems to be around the ball.

"The energy and aggression he plays with really stands out," UK linebackers coach Chuck Smith said. "Any coach or any fan who watches the game realizes, 'Hey, this cat's a good player.' He's smart, explosive and can get a quick jump on the ball. Once he gets locked in, he's locked in. He's like one of those smart missiles. He just takes off."

Even his teammates feel Trevathan's power at times. Defensive end Mark Crawford, a 300-plus-pounder, recalled a collision he had with Trevathan in the South Carolina game.

"I'm running to the ball, he nudges into me, and I go flying five yards," he said. "I could only imagine what the running backs and fullbacks and the rest of them feel like."

The problem for the UK defense is that at times, it seems as if Trevathan is the only out there flying to the ball and making plays.

Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips has challenged Trevathan to be more of a vocal leader with hopes that his energy will rub off on those around him, although Phillips noted, "Not a lot of guys can run like him for the position; we want them to play with his fire and desire, though."

Trevathan said it's important for him to live up to the high standards set by recent UK linebackers: Wesley Woodyard and Braxton Kelley, who came before him, and Micah Johnson and Sam Maxwell, who helped groom him.

Trevathan has often been compared to Woodyard, now with the NFL's Denver Broncos. But he doesn't have Woodyard's personality.

"Wes was a guy that was in everybody's face, challenging them to perform," Phillips said. "That's not Danny. He leads by the way he plays. He's got a lot of respect here with the way he plays and the fact that he's been around here a long time. When he speaks, those guys have got to listen with the way he performs and shows up. I'd like to see that out of Danny."

Trevathan said he wants to give advice and correct players but he doesn't want to upset people.

"I tell them," Trevathan said. "But I try not to come at people wrong because they'll come right back at you wrong, and we don't need that. ... They're grown men. But there's a lot of people that want to do it by themselves but might need a little push along the way, and that's what I'm trying to help them with."

He's taken a personal interest in trying to lift up junior middle linebacker Ronnie Sneed, one of his closest friends on the team. Sneed had perhaps his best game of the season in UK's 24-17 loss to Mississippi State last weekend with five tackles, a half tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry. Trevathan said he doesn't pay too much attention to his tackle totals despite racking up double digits almost every week. He did notice Sneed's stat line, though.

"That's my boy," Trevathan said of Sneed. "I congratulated him after the game. He's picking it up. He's a tough guy just like me, but he's a guy that just likes to do his job. I'm trying to get him to take that other step, and he made a lot of plays last game."

Locke has a full practice

UK running back Derrick Locke has been cleared by doctors, and he made it through an entire practice Wednesday. Now the decision on whether he returns for Saturday's game with Charleston Southern is up to him.

"He's been cleared by the doctors. ... If he feels like he has the strength to protect himself, he'll go," Phillips said.

Locke has missed UK's past two and a half games with a shoulder injury, but Phillips said he started to look like the old Locke during non-contact drills Wednesday.

"He looked really good in the drills I saw him," Phillips said. "He caught the ball well out of the backfield. Now he didn't get hit; he had a red jersey on. But he looked fast. His legs are not hurting."

Phillips said he's given no thought to holding out Locke this week and saving him for the Vanderbilt game on Nov. 13.

"If he can play, we've got to play Derrick Locke. What are we going to save him for? ... This is a game we've got to win. ... We've got to play everybody we have available to win this game."

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