Huzzie tries to live up to LaGrange legacy


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

When Qua Huzzie arrived at LaGrange High School in LaGrange, Ga., he put a couple of local legends on notice. The audacious freshman told Braxton Kelley and Wesley Woodyard, who both went on to be All-Southeastern Conference linebackers at UK and NFL players, he was going to break their records.

He made good on that prediction, finishing as the all-time leading tackler in school history. So when he followed in their footsteps and signed with UK last year, he put them on notice again.

“When I broke all their records in high school, we got into it again up here,” Huzzie said. “I told them I’m going to break all their records here and that’s what I’m working on right now.”

Those plans were put on hold when he injured his shoulder last fall. At the time, coaches were counting on him to be a major contributor on special teams and he was competing to back up senior linebacker Micah Johnson despite being a true freshman. Instead, he took a redshirt and hit the film room to learn as much as he could.

Huzzie has had as much buzz surrounding him in spring practice as any player, but he’s still not guaranteed to slide into Johnson’s spot this fall. He’ll battle with junior-to-be Ronnie Sneed during the summer and into the fall. Sneed has been out for most of spring practice due to class conflicts, but will be right back in the mix when he returns to the field.

Even though Huzzie didn’t get to play in 2009, he still gained a lot from his first year on campus.

“To be honest, I’m pretty glad it worked out the way it did,” Huzzie said. “Now, I understand a lot of stuff I wouldn’t have understood last year and I think I’m going to make bigger plays than I would’ve made last year. And I’ve got all four years (of eligibility) left.”

If Huzzie does win the starting job as a redshirt freshman, the linebacking corps will be even more green than expected. Junior-to-be Danny Trevathan is the only returner from a group that lost Johnson as well as Sam Maxwell to graduation, and players like Sneed, senior-to-be Jacob Dufrene and sophomore-to-be Ridge Wilson played sparingly last year.

After being mentored by two seniors last year, Trevathan has a very different role to look forward to now.

“I think I did a good job of learning the ropes,” Trevathan said. “I think it’s more of me going out there and trying to be a leader, trying to be All-SEC.”

Huzzie said he’s just pleased to have a chance to run with the first team defense even though he missed last season. Senior-to-be Derrick Locke said when he went up against Huzzie in scrimmages, he was surprised how hard he could hit.

“This guy came in kind of banged up, but he gave me a nice little lick,” Locke said. “I’m not going to lie, I underestimated (Huzzie). Most people can’t have that mindset coming off an injury like ‘I’m going to play and I’m going to go hard.’ He’s coming in playing hard, showing that he’s going to play downhill and he’s going to bring it.”