November 23, 2011
Trevathan, Guy prepare for final game
It's not easy to tell how much Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy have meant to the Kentucky football program.
But if you wanted, you could start with their numbers.
Trevathan led the Southeastern Conference in tackles a season ago with 144. He's on pace to exceed that number this year. Through 11 games, Trevathan leads the SEC with 135 tackles, is tied for eighth with 10.5 tackles for loss, tied for first with five forced fumbles and tied for fourth with four interceptions.
Guy isn't far behind. He's second in the league with 106 tackles and is fifth in the conference with 12 tackles for loss.
"They've been the heart and soul of what we do," defensive coordinator Rick Minter said. "We'll be challenged without that."
They're the leaders of the defense in every way. Trevathan and Guy both underwent evaluations for the NFL draft after their junior years before deciding to return for their senior seasons. Trevathan seriously considered making the jump to the NFL when his evaluation said he'd likely be a late-round pick, but decided to come back.
"There was a point where I was on the verge (of leaving)," Trevathan said. "It never really got to that point (where I was ready to leave), because I wanted more and I didn't believe what the evaluation said. I believe you can always get better."
He's done that in his senior year. He's battled through bumps and bruises, chipped teeth and close losses to one of the best years a Kentucky defender has had in over a decade.
Many of the same questions the NFL had about Trevathan will remain when he prepares for the draft in the spring. He's been knocked for being undersized (he's listed at 6-foot-1, 232 pounds) and doesn't play on an elite team.
Kentucky head coach [db]Joker Phillips dismisses that assessment.
"It's hard to measure heart," Phillips said. "If you measured heart, the guy we had last year would have been the first pick. If you measured heart this year, it would be hard not to pick this guy in the first round.
Trevathan found motivation in his senior year even as the Cats slipped below .500 and the offense struggled to prop up a tiring defense. When he wasn't included on a list of 12 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation's top linebacker, he texted linebackers coach Chuck Smith and said he'd prove the selection committee wrong.
He's since had 58 tackles in four games.
"Hopefully I made a point that I don't like to be doubted," Trevathan said. "I'm going to play my heart out through whatever. It might be size, it might be team, but there's no excuse for me to not play my heart out. I'm going to do it every day until the day I die or until people respect it.
Guy entered his senior season in a completely new situation. When Minter arrived, he asked Guy to move from safety, where he had started for the Cats for two years, to a hybrid nickel/linebacker spot closer to the ball in his new scheme.
He was hesitant at first. Guy wasn't sure if moving closer to the line of scrimmage would be a positive for him. After all, he had come back for his senior year to
"No coach is going to make a decision to be bad for someone's career," Guy said. "I bought in and did what I could to make myself better at the position I played. It worked to the best of my ability and with the success I had this year, it paid off for me to buy in like that."
It's worked out for Minter exactly as he envisioned. Guy used his speed and instincts to fly to the ball. He was an integral part of blitz packages, lined up in coverage and made plays all over the field.
"I think this new position showed his athletic ability a little more," Phillips said. "Showed his toughness and showed how fast he really plays. He played fast the same way when he was over the top as a deep safety, but it showed up a little more closer to the line of scrimmage."
That success was that much sweeter for Guy, a Lexington native, who played in front of his friends and family every weekend. It was also that much sweeter for him to be playing alongside Trevathan, one of his closest friends.
Trevathan and Guy arrived at UK at the same time as freshmen in 2008. They broke into the starting lineup together in 2009. They grew together and now, they'll finish their careers together. In less than a week, Minter will be faced with the same scenario facing him when he arrived as the duo was pondering the NFL draft: both will be gone.
The idea of the UK defense without Trevathan and Guy is daunting. Players will have to step up and replace Trevathan and Guy, Minter said, but in this case, it won't be as simple as putting another player on the field.
"Every time you invest in people, as a coach, when they leave, part of you leaves," Minter said.
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