Cats’ former defenders show pro-level success



For much of the last 10 years, the UK football program has been characterized by big-armed quarterbacks, talented receivers and a deep rushing attack.

But despite that, plenty of UK’s biggest offensive stars have seen their careers fizzle in the pros. Meanwhile, some of UK’s underrated defensive standouts have made names for themselves in the NFL.

Defensive tackle Myron Pryor and linebacker Wesley Woodyard have already established themselves playing for the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos, respectively. Corey Peters, a rookie defensive tackle for the Atlanta Falcons, is turning heads as well.

“We’ve had a lot of guys on defense who have been in NFL camps,” defensive coordinator Steve Brown said. “Probably more so than offensive guys.”

That kind of success has given Brown and his staff a new weapon on the recruiting trail. In earlier years, coaches were able to tell players about members of UK’s staff who had experience coaching and playing in the NFL. After demonstrating their ability to develop talent into draft picks, they’ve been able to sell that to high school prospects.

“With the success we’ve had the last few years with the numbers of guys that have gone to the NFL, it’s two-fold,”

Brown said. “Winning bowl games, sending guys to the NFL, great academics, beautiful school — it’s easy to sell.”

This year’s squad could see a handful of defensive players take their skills to the next level as well. Junior cornerback Randall Burden cited linebacker Danny Trevathan and safety Winston Guy, both juniors, along with defensive linemen Shane McCord and DeQuin Evans as players with pro potential.

Burden himself could find a spot in the league one day. He acknowledged that he needs to work on his tackling and add weight to his 6-foot, 175-pound frame, but teammates have said he has the cover skills to be better than former UK standout Trevard Lindley, now with the Philadelphia Eagles.

There is a fair amount of luck involved with a successful NFL career. Lindley was considered a potential first-round draft pick entering his senior year before ankle injuries slowed him. Linebacker Braxton Kelley, a product of LaGrange (Ga.) High School along with Woodyard and Burden, signed with the Broncos in 2009 but hasn’t been able to stick on a roster because of injuries.

“I think anybody on both sides of the ball could have a good career in the NFL,” Burden said.

Phillips quiet on Cobb’s Heisman chances

UK head coach Joker Phillips declined to say whether junior Randall Cobb would be getting more Heisman consideration if he were at another school, such as Florida.

“We are who we are. When people say that, that’s a slap in the face to our program,” Phillips said. “I don’t think anything like that. We’re trying to get to where we’re trying to get to.”

Cobb caught a touchdown pass, threw a touchdown pass and returned a punt for a touchdown in Saturday’s win over Western Kentucky. Phillips wouldn’t directly say whether he thought Cobb should be a contender for the Heisman, but was effusive in his praise of the star receiver.

“The Heisman, to me, is the best football player in the country,” Phillips said. “You make the decision whether or not he’s the best. He’s the best player I’ve ever been around.”