UK LB Danny Trevathan uses Butkus Award snub as motivation

Being 'forgotten' is good motivation

jsmith3@herald-leader.comNovember 9, 2011 

Most coaches want only the best for their players.

Not Joker Phillips.

The University of Kentucky football coach hopes senior Danny Trevathan is left off of every watch list and looked over for every honor for the rest of the season.

When asked this week whether the linebacker was being passed over for some of the top national awards, Phillips said Trevathan was, but added: "I'm glad they did it."

Then the coach was told that Trevathan was not named Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week this week.

"Good," Phillips replied, tongue firmly in cheek.

The coach knows that the more people who dismiss Trevathan, the more likely he is to have a special game the next week.

In the two weeks since being left off the list of finalists for the Butkus Award — for the nation's top linebacker — Trevathan has been a monster.

In that span, the 6-foot-1, 230-pound senior has made 34 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss and grabbed two interceptions.

"Them leaving me off the list is just going to make me play my game," Trevathan said after he tied a career high with 17 tackles and had an interception against Mississippi on Saturday. "Show the critics I'm not slowing down, I'm just going to play."

Trevathan has more interceptions (four) than any of the 12 players on the Butkus Award list, and only one player, Boston College's Luke Kuechly (150), has more tackles than Trevathan's 111. Trevathan's three forced fumbles are more than all but two of the players.

After not being named a Butkus Award finalist, Trevathan quietly changed his Twitter handle to "@ForGotten Trev22."

A quiet protest from a player who goes about his business quietly.

When asked about the handle change, Trevathan shrugged his big, blue-clad shoulders.

"It's been a thing in my life: The harder I work, it seems like the more people forget about me," he said.

The more he's forgotten, the more he's likely to do things to get noticed.

"That's just going to make me work harder," he said. "My mom always told me, whatever you do, be the best at it and, no matter what you do, stay humble, and keep God first, and those are three things I strive to do every day of my life."

Of course, Phillips doesn't really wish that Trevathan would be overlooked for awards. He knows the gem he has in the senior linebacker.

"He's a pro," the coach said of his star linebacker, who was lightly recruited out of Leesburg High School in Florida. "He comes to work. He rolls his sleeves up, he goes into the meetings, he pays attention, he's coaching the other kids up now. Those are the things that we asked him to do."

His teammates are paying attention.

"He just has the heart of a lion," fellow defender Avery Williamson said. "I'm just trying my best to be like him, to play like him all the time."

Sometimes the team's best players are able to beg off special teams duties.

But Trevathan has no desire to sit on the sideline. The senior is one of the Cats' top tacklers on special teams, as well, Phillips said.

"Danny has done a good job on all of our cover teams," Phillips said. "We try to give him a break on our return teams, and then he wants to return kicks. Looking at the way he's returned some of those interceptions, he probably could do it, too. But we need him to play those defensive snaps, and we need him to play those coverage snaps for us."

Defensive coordinator Rick Minter, who has coached all over the country, can't say enough about the senior linebacker.

"He's a hard player," Minter said. "He runs relentlessly. He's a good tackler with tremendous awareness.

"He's as good as they come."

Injury report

Linebacker Ridge Wilson (shoulder) did not practice Tuesday. Mister Cobble and Donte Rumph also did not practice and both were in boots. Wide receiver Matt Roark (foot sprain) didn't practice, but he is recovering nicely, Phillips said.

Running back Raymond Sanders (ankle) did practice on Tuesday and "looked pretty good," Phillips said.

Trevathan vs. the Butkus list

How the statistics of UK's Danny Trevathan compare to those of the 12 finalists for the Butkus Award, which goes to the nation's top linebacker:

Player, school Tackles INT fumbles
Danny Trevathan, Kentucky 111 4 3 1 2
Zach Brown, North Carolina 71 2 3 1 5.5
Vantaze Burfict, Arizona State 51 1 0 0 5
Audie Cole, N.C. State 76 0 4 1 3.5
Lavonte David, Nebraska 88 2 1 1 2
Donta Hightower, Alabama 55 1 0 0 1.5
Jarvis Jones, Georgia 46 0 1 0 8
Luke Kuechly, Boston College 150 2 0 0 0
Travis Lewis, Oklahoma 61 0 1 0 0
Keenan Robinson, Texas 62 0 2 0 0
Sean Spence, Miami 83 0 1 0 3
Manti Te'o, Notre Dame 87 0 0 0 4.5
Courtney Upshaw, Alabama 32 1 2 1 5.5

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