DeAndre Square: Linebacker, audiophile, movie buff


Kentucky linebacker DeAndre Square (5) celebrates during the University of Kentucky vs. South Carolina football game on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. UK won 16-10. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Lindsey Davis

UK linebacker DeAndre Square has “unfinished business” with the football program. That’s why he chose to return to Kentucky for a fifth season.

“I still have a lot of things to prove to NFL scouts, and I want the best opportunity for me,” Square said.

He said he didn’t want to say that the team needs him, but he does feel like he could be useful to help make more history in the program.

The Kentucky Wildcats rang in the new year with a 20-17 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl. Square secured the win with an interception with 49 seconds on the clock. In the third quarter, though, he was ruled out with a high ankle sprain. He had no intention of going back in the game due to his injury, but he still remained in good spirits on the sidelines and acted as a morale booster for the rest of the team.

However, his mindset changed within seconds when fellow teammate Marquan McCall grabbed him and said, “We need you.”

Square and McCall grew up together, so those words were even more meaningful, and he wasn’t going to let McCall down. Something just clicked, and he knew he had to play through the pain, he said.

He described the game-saving interception as “a gift from God.”

“That’s why I held the ball up like that. I was a little emotional afterwards,” he said. “I cried. I wasn’t even supposed to be playing, but it was a very special moment.”

As far as his injury goes, he no longer has to wear a boot. He is able to walk, but not run, and he isn’t sure when he will be cleared to fully return.

“I’ve been treating it daily, and it’s slowly progressing,” he said.

Square was first introduced to football at the age of six when he started throwing the ball with his father in the backyard. He started out playing quarterback but eventually transitioned to linebacker. At 14, he received his first college offer from the University of Cincinnati.

“I didn’t even know what a scholarship was,” he said. “All of my friends were telling me to post the offer, but I didn’t even have Twitter at the time. I wasn’t playing to get scholarships. I was just playing for my love of the game.”

Square admitted that he was wary of UK at first because it was a “basketball school.” He originally decided to go to Wisconsin but changed his mind the day that he first toured UK. “I didn’t expect to fall in love with the school like I did, but I’ve been for the team ever since,” Square said.

Square is notorious for changing his jersey number frequently, but he has a fascinating ability to find meaning in numbers. He explained that he wanted the number five since his freshman year because it’s one of his favorite numbers, but he had to prove himself and was given the number 43, which earned him the nickname “43 Savage.” He followed this by showing the tattoo on his arm that read “Savage,” his mother’s maiden name.

Square thought he had proved himself by receiving the All-SEC honors his freshman year, but they offered him the number 17. He initially didn’t want the number, but then he gave it some more thought. “I was 43 the year before. Four minus three is one, four plus three is seven, and one and seven make 17. I thought maybe it was destiny that I was supposed to be 17,” Square said.

His junior year, he finally got number five and kept it for his senior year as well. Square said he isn’t sure if he will keep the same number for the next season.

“I’m kind of leaning towards going back to 43,” he said. “I hated the number my freshman year, and I don’t think I did it justice.”

A lot of athletes have a pre-game ritual such as eating a specific meal, wearing a certain pair of socks or writing something meaningful on their athletic tape. Square and his teammates like to go to the movie theater on Fridays as a way to unwind before games, and he always takes a shower the night before a game as well.

“I also like to dance. It gets me loose,” Square said. “ I like rap and all, but I really just like music that makes me happy.”

He often records himself dancing — whether it’s in the locker room, his bathroom or a hotel room — and posts it on his Snapchat story.

One of Square’s main goals for next season is taking care of his mental health. “I feel like I haven’t had a season where I was fully there mentally, and I hadn’t addressed it either,” he said. “That’s something that I want to do better this year, because I feel like it will help my play. When I’m not together mentally, I start questioning myself, and you can see it in my film.”

He also hopes to join the 300-Tackle Club this year with only 55 tackles to go.

In terms of life after UK, Square said that he wants to play professional football and provide for his family. He hasn’t decided what he wants to do after football, but the possibilities seemed endless as he talked about his love for coaching, music and animals. He has two dogs: a pitbull-labrador mix named Kilo and a Doberman named Miles.

Outside of football, Square considers himself a collector. “My room is covered in posters, and I collect a lot of graphic tees. I have some stuffed animals too; they all got names,” Square said.

He said he loves Marvel movies, Dr. Strange being his favorite superhero. He likes movies and TV shows that keep him guessing and challenge him intellectually. From a young age, he had a fascination with history and said that if it wasn’t for football, he might be a history teacher.

Square had some words of advice for young athletes that look up to him: “Always do more.”

“Overachieving and getting better isn’t going to hurt you. You never know how much you could have done until, you know, you look back and realize you could have done more,” he said. “If you achieve one goal, you can do another one. If you’re already halfway there, you can finish it. Just keep going so you’re one step ahead and you’ll always be in the position to win.”