Trevathan turns to yoga to take game to next level

Over the summer, Danny Trevathan was watching YouTube highlights of his NFL idols, Ray Lewis and Brian Dawkins, wondering what he could do to better emulate their hard-hitting ways.

Former UK linebacker and current Kansas City Chief Micah Johnson gave him a suggestion: Try yoga.

Trevathan was skeptical at first that NFL players would be using it to get better. Upon further urging from Johnson, he decided to give it a shot, along with his roommate, tailback CoShik Williams.

“It’s been showing,” Trevathan said, flexing the arms that wrapped up opponents an SEC-leading 144 times last season. “I see areas of my body improving you don’t get from working with weights.”

He wasn’t the only one who noticed.

“When we started doing it, we saw our maxes going up,” Williams said. “The coaches were like, ‘What are you all doing?’”

Trevathan could have joined Lewis and Dawkins in the NFL after a breakout junior season in which he was selected First Team All-SEC. He returned instead, and will be the face of the team and the leader of the defense.

“Coach (Rick) Minter told me being a leader is like being an eagle,” Trevathan said. “They fly alone. They aren’t worried about what other people are doing.”

Trevathan was UK’s leading tackler last season, but the Cats return their next 10 top tacklers from last season as well.

“I definitely believe in this defense,” Trevathan said, “or I would never have come back.”
Moving to join him is Winston Guy, who had to change positions — again.

“This will be my fourth position since I’ve been here,” Guy said.

This time, the move is from safety to outside linebacker. He’s back at a position he played years ago, in high school, and he feels it is a natural return.

“I did a lot of blitzing, lots of plays at the position,” Guy said of his time in high school. “So there’s nothing uncomfortable for me being closing to the line. The only thing I’m worried about is making sure I learn the plays. That’s the biggest challenge.”

However, Guy isn’t locked into that position. With his experience elsewhere on the field, UK also plans to use him as a rover playing all over the field. Depending on the scheme and situation, Guy said, he could be lined up at defensive end or drop back to safety.

“Me and Coach (Randy) Smith talk about all the responsibilities I have as far as my position,” Guy said. “They’re utilizing all my skills.”

Guy certainly will be spotted in more than one position. Maybe that’s why he was still listed at safety on UK’s official roster at Media Day even though he is thinking about himself as a linebacker now.

The unit is fortified by returnees Ronnie Sneed, who head coach Joker Phillips said best understands the new defense, and Ridge Wilson, who said he’s “not trying to be cocky” in setting a sack-a-game personal goal.

Sneed will be the stabilizing presence for the group, as paralleled by his personal life. Sneed lives with his long-time girlfriend and their 1-year-old son. While Phillips (incorrecetly) called Sneed “married” in the preseason, Sneed said he’s the closest thing on UK’s team.

With those four proven players, the linebacking corps is expected to be the core of the revamped defense.

“We’re going to be smacking people around,” Sneed said.

The group has learned all the new schemes, and now is working on making sure they know all the plays and have their knowledge of the defense polished. Guy said he’s studying the playbook every night before he goes to bed to ensure he can function with the other linebackers. When he was asked if he could have as much of an impact on the team as Trevathan, Guy smiled and said, “I like that question.”

“We like a ying and yang,” Guy said. “We gonna rock with these linebackers.”