BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — When Danny Trevathan says he's willing to do anything to help Kentucky succeed, it becomes clear quickly that he means it.
The Southeastern Conference's leading tackler opted to return for his senior season knowing he'd have to learn a new defensive scheme.
The linebacker and first-team All-American didn't have a lot left to prove after getting 144 tackles last season, averaging 11.5 in SEC games.
This season, Trevathan isn't worried about his numbers, which also included four forced fumbles and 16 tackles for a loss. He wants to help his teammates get big numbers, too.
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"This year I just want to try to bring a lot of people with me," he said. "I want the whole defense to get 100 tackles if that's possible."
To do that, Trevathan knows he has to take on a serious leadership role for the Cats' defense.
Being a vocal leader isn't his thing, but he's willing to do anything to help Kentucky succeed.
"I'm trying to be a complete leader and in order to take my game to the next level, I've got to learn to be a real leader, a true leader," Trevathan told a large cluster of media at Thursday's SEC Media Days.
It was after Kentucky's bowl loss here in Birmingham last January that Trevathan realized he wasn't what he referred to as a "true leader."
That loss stuck with him and his UK teammates.
"I felt embarrassed after that game," he said. "I didn't take the time to learn the defense the way I should have. I knew my part, but I didn't try to help other people learn their part.
"That's the difference this year is trying to help them ... This will allow me to have a blowout year."
Trevathan believes that will only happen if he can motivate his fellow defenders as well as he can take down a running back.
"I need to be a leader," he said. "I'm going to tell people what they're doing right, what they're doing wrong. I'm going to get in their face."
The usually soft-spoken Trevathan said he's worked hard this off-season in the weight room and the film study room.
He's been a self-described "book worm" this summer, learning the new defensive scheme brought in by co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter.
Some seniors might be frustrated by having to learn a whole new defense for just one season.
"Learning a new scheme is just going to be a part of the things you'll have to learn when you get to the NFL," said the Leesburg, Fla., native. "I just try to take advantage of the opportunity that I got. Coach Minter explained it's similar to the defense the Jets are running and other teams.
"They're going to look at how well I pick up on little stuff and how well I learn the defense, how well I can move around in that defense and make plays."
It's hard to question Trevathan's willingness to do anything to help UK win, especially when the 6-foot-1, 232-pounder confided to the media on Thursday that he's flirting with the idea of returning kicks for the Cats.
"I'm going to try it," Trevathan said with a straight face.
When asked if Joker Phillips knew his star defender wanted to return kicks, Trevathan smiled and said the coach told him it was open for the taking with the departures of Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke.
"I hope he's serious," Trevathan said of Phillips. "I've been practicing at it."