Sneed could make linebackers a triple threat

in the first half of the UK vs WKU home game on Saturday, September 11, 2010. Photo by Brandon Goodwin

By Cody Porter, Kernel columnist

The UK defense showed up to play against Western Kentucky last Thursday.

Among those defensive players were senior linebacker Danny Trevathan and senior safety Winston Guy, who are two dependable performers for the Cats when it comes to stopping the opposing offense.

The defense had 33 of its 73 total tackles from three players.

As one may expect, it was Trevathan and Guy who had 23 stops between them; 13 for Trevathan and 10 for Guy.

But who was the third player?

It was none other than senior linebacker Ronnie Sneed with the other 10 tackles for the Cats.

Sneed, while quiet last season, started every game at middle linebacker and was the team’s third-leading tackler, finishing the season with 62 total defensive stops.

A 2010 member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, Sneed could be a beneficial and critical piece to co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter’s new 3-4 defensive scheme.

While stopping runners in their path to the tune of 10 tackles, Sneed had half of a tackle for a loss and snagged one of UK’s four interceptions, his first as a Cat.

During his weekly news conference Monday, head coach Joker Phillips spoke highly of UK’s defense.

“I think you’re seeing more guys play like Winston Guy and Danny,” Phillips said. “Our guys played with great effort. It’s infectious. I think you see those two guys playing that way and our other players want to do the same.”

Given Sneed’s experience, he should be playing at a similar level with Guy and Trevathan.

The Tallahassee native didn’t play in a game until 2008 after having to redshirt during his 2007 season.

Despite playing in six games, Sneed’s first collegiate tackle didn’t come until later in the 2008 season during the Liberty Bowl.

His sophomore campaign presented him the opportunity for playing time.

In 11 appearances, Sneed made 14 tackles, including a season-best three tackles at Florida.

While his production has steadily been increasing, Sneed is now looking to take full advantage of the system he is in and become a breakthrough player on defense.

Though he was overlooked last season, the circumstances that presented themselves even had Guy, who finished with 106 tackles, being overshadowed by the team’s inconsistent second-half performances and the outstanding play of Trevathan.

As the season wears on, Sneed can place himself in good company if he continues to build upon recent success.

UK fans have been accustomed to pro talent coming in form of defense, and with Trevathan already there, Sneed could be the next in a recent line of successful Cats that includes the likes of Braxton Kelley, Wesley Woodyard, Corey Peters, Trevard Lindley, Myron  Pryor and Jeremy Jarmon.