Trevathan faces challenges in new leadership role


UK linebacker Danny Trevathan tackles Vanderbilt running back Warren Norman during the first half of the football game against Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009. The Wildcats beat the Commodores 24-13. Photo by Adam Wolffbrandt

It’s good news linebacker Danny Trevathan added 15 pounds to his frame in the weight room because he’s going to need broad shoulders to carry the burden of heightened expectations.

At this time last year, Trevathan, a junior, was solidifying his starting spot at weakside linebacker following an impressive spring showing. Fast forward to the present and Trevathan is UK’s leading returning tackler and is expected to fill the void left by graduated linebackers and defensive leaders Sam Maxwell and Micah Johnson.

“(Trevathan) went from being the rookie to the veteran,” UK linebackers coach Chuck Smith said. “He has got to be the guy that helps us get aligned, he has got to be the guy that takes charge of the game…I’m expecting big things from him and he should expect big things from himself because he is an outstanding talent.”

Former UK head coach Rich Brooks tabbed Trevathan as a “four-star” talent prior to the 2009 season, and Trevathan impressed coaches with his on-field performance. But Trevathan, a self-proclaimed leader by example, said that being vocal doesn’t come as naturally to him.

“I’ve got to be more vocal, I’ve got to step up and call plays out, call shifts in the linemen, go out there and help young guys out,” Trevathan said. “First step of being a leader is you got to come correct at yourself, you’ve got to go ahead and get yourself together and, God bless, I’ll be a leader, so I’m trying to get myself together to go out and lead these guys.

“Sam and Micah really punched down and nailed on me to go ahead and be vocal.”

Always being physical and motivated and “attacking practice” are some of the other tips Trevathan said he observed from playing behind Johnson and Maxwell, both all-conference selections a year ago.

Trevathan credited his ability to bulk up during the summer to a change in the environment of the weight room, thanks to the addition of strength and conditioning coach Ray “Rock” Oliver to UK head coach Joker Phillips’ staff.

The added weight hasn’t diminished Trevathan’s trademark speed, however. In fact, Trevathan said that he is now quicker because his first step is more powerful.

Beyond Trevathan, the other starting linebacker positions are “wide open,” Smith said.

Senior Jacob Dufrene, pegged as the starter at strongside linebacker at the end of the spring, likened his playing situation to the one Maxwell faced a season ago. Like Dufrene, Maxwell hadn’t had much starting experience in his first three years for UK only to have a breakout year as a senior.

“You always have to wait behind the person in front of you because we’ve had good talent at linebacker,” Dufrene said. “I finally got my chance (to start).”

At middle linebacker, junior Ronnie Sneed, who featured on special teams last season, and redshirt freshman Qua Huzzie are competing for the spot, which Phillips said was one of the better position battles.

Huzzie may have seen playing time as a true freshman if it weren’t for a shoulder injury that forced him to sit out the season.

Whoever wins the two other starting roles, the linebackers all know who to look to for guidance.

“As a linebacking corps, we all follow Danny…he’s been in there, he knows how to deal with the tight-game situations,” Dufrene said.



Probable Starters

Weakside: Danny Trevathan

Middle: Ronnie Sneed/Qua Huzzie

Strongside: Jacob Dufrene

Who To Keep An Eye On

Qua Huzzie: He has been slowed by a foot blister in fall camp, causing him to slip in the position battle, but he should see the field at some point.

Biggest Question

Can Trevathan fill the leadership void left by Johnson and Maxwell?