UK Football

Cats say Guy is ready to tap potential

Free safety Winston Guy Jr. shown on UK football media day on Friday, Aug. 6, 2010 at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky.   Photo by David Perry | Staff
Free safety Winston Guy Jr. shown on UK football media day on Friday, Aug. 6, 2010 at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky. Photo by David Perry | Staff

There's never a dull moment in the life of Winston Guy.

On the field, the safety is capable of dazzling displays of athleticism that have NFL written all over them. He's also just as capable of a missed tackle or a blown assignment that results in a big play going the other way.

Off the field, his colorful interviews have made him a favorite of the media. And Guy's zany antics in the locker room keep his teammates laughing while driving the UK coaching staff nuts at times.

"Winston has a lot of personality to say the least," said UK defensive coordinator Steve Brown.

Brown said he doesn't mind Guy's individualism as long as he produces on the field.

"You can't change people's personalities," Brown said. "We don't want guys to be rigid and stiff. We don't want robotic clones. They all have individual personalities. He just has to understand when he's on the football field, it's time to work."

Aaron Boyd, like Guy a Lexington product who's in his third year in the program, is often Guy's partner in crime.

"We have our own slang and lingo that people don't understand; we act silly together all the time," Boyd said. "He's a goofy dude; I'm a goofy dude. We like to have fun together."

Physically, Guy has all the tools. He's tall and rangy for a safety (6-foot-1, 215 pounds), has the speed of a cornerback and can deliver hard hits. But he has yet to establish the consistency needed at a position that's usually the last line of defense.

"He shows flashes, but we want consistency out of the position," UK head coach Joker Phillips said. "The key to a great defense is great safety play. You can't have blunders there. With Winston, they're not coming as often as they used to, but they're still showing up sometimes, and we can't have that there. It's like the quarterback. If there's a blunder there, it can lead to six points."

Guy's junior season is rapidly approaching, and he's made no secret of his desire to one day play in the NFL. For the goal to become a reality, Guy has to get moving.

"I know, all the coaches, they want me to be good," Guy said. "I want to be the best safety to come out of this university."

Guy said the problems that plagued him earlier in the year, such as not being on time or staying awake and alert in meetings, are a thing of the past.

"I've tried to change my game dramatically," he said. "I'm more dedicated to film work. I have to know my position, and I want to know everybody else's position, too. I've grown up a lot. I still goof around but, when it's practice time, it's practice time. I'm trying to get the young guys to become more serious because I remember some of the stupid stuff I did as a freshman."

UK safeties coach Chris Thurmond said most of Guy's mistakes are technical things that can be corrected, such as reading his keys on defense and making sure he's at the right place at the right time.

"If we've got a blitz coming, he's got to make sure he's covering for the blitzer," Thurmond said. "Those are just learning-curve type of things. But Winston, he's getting a lot more mature and approaching his work in a lot more workmanlike manner. That's part of the learning process."

Boyd and Guy were two of the highest-ranked members of UK's 2008 recruiting class, but neither player has lived up to the hype just yet. Boyd said he and Guy have leaned on each other during the tough times.

"We've both been through adversity, so we try and keep each other levelheaded," Boyd said. "We know when it's time to get serious, and we know that it's time for us to start doing what we needed. Winston has all the talent in the world. Once he sets his mind to it, he can do anything he wants to."

Guy is still waiting for his first interception as a Wildcat, but he's been opportunistic in the off-season. He intercepted a Morgan Newton pass in the end zone during the Blue-White Game in the spring and, in UK's first scrimmage of fall camp, Guy leaped in the air, tapped an errant pass intended for Randall Cobb, and snagged it off the deflection for a pick.

"I think I dropped three picks last year," Guy said. "I was talking to (former UK defensive back) Shomari Moore, and just asked him, 'Why can't I get any?'" Guy said. "He gave me some good advice. He told me, if I think too much, it won't come to you. Just play every play, and it will come natural."

Brown says that once that big play happens, Guy could take off.

"All Winston needs is to have a play, one great play and, all of a sudden, his confidence will blossom," Brown said. "Whether it's a big open-field tackle or an interception, once it happens, I think you'll see everything start to come together for him."

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