He never got to play with Wesley Woodyard at Kentucky, but Danny Trevathan heard plenty about the former UK star linebacker while he was playing for the Wildcats.
If the two had played together at Kentucky, they would have been a potent duo in the Southeastern Conference. Both were huge playmakers who led the team and SEC in tackles and both had ever intangible quality it takes to be a leader on and off the playing field.
Now they will get a chance to play together after Denver picked Trevathan Saturday in the sixth round of the draft. Woodyard, originally a free agent out of UK, has been with the Broncos four years and has gone from a special teams player to a starting linebacker/special teams captain and one of the most popular Broncos because of his community outreach.
“It’s been an honor to see him play. I never had a chance to play with him. I think our football characteristics are similar. I strive (to be) like him. He’s a great leader. I can’t wait to play with him this year,” said Trevathan during a conference call Saturday after being drafted.
Trevathan led the SEC in tackles each of his last two seasons. He had 143 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, four pass interceptions, five pass breakups, five caused fumbles and one fumble recovery in 2011. He led the nation’s linebackers in fumbles caused and was second among the nation’s linebackers in interceptions. He was named the National Linebacker of the Year by the College Football Performance Awards and second-team All-America by SportsIllustrated.com. He was a first-team All-SEC choice by numerous selectors, including the Associated Press and ESPN.com.
Considering he also had 144 tackles, including 16 tackles for loss, as a junior and led the SEC, it was a bit surprising that he was not picked higher — or that some draft analysts had predicted he would not be drafted at all similar to Woodyard four years ago. It was also a bit of a shock when teammate Winston Guy, second in the SEC in tackles last year, was chosen six picks ahead of him by Seattle.
No disrespect to Guy, the season he had or the speed he possesses, but Trevathan is a guy I would want on my team first. He may not have blazing speed, but his football instincts and will to make plays enable him to play faster on the field than any 40-yard dash time can accurately gauge just like Woodyard always did at UK and continues to do at Denver.
Just consider that Trevathan has 374 career tackles, including 32.5 tackles for loss and 11 fumbles causes. He played in three bowl games and was clearly UK’s best player the last two seasons.
Yet he had no idea he was going to be picked by the Broncos, who also added free agent tight end Jacob Tamme and free agent defensive lineman Jeremy Jarmon — both UK graduates — in the offseason.
“There wasn’t that much (contact with Denver), but there was enough to know that they were interested. You never know with the draft. You just have to play your game,” Trevathan said.
He didn’t mind the draft detractors any more than he did what he called the “haters” who never believed in the UK¿football program.
“They motivate me. That’s always going to be in the back of my mind,” he said. “You have to pay attention to yourself and strive for excellence. In this world they are looking for you to fail. You can’t be one of those dudes that give up when times get hard.”
Trevathan on the Denver conference call that he played two positions at UK¿and could play more if needed.
“I can see myself playing whatever they need me to play,” he said.
Any UK football fan who watched him the last two years would agree.
Any UK football fans would also know Trevathan will be a great fit in the Denver community just like Woodyard. Perhaps it was because of all Woodyard has done that Trevathan was asked about the mission trip he took to Ethiopia — not exactly standard draft conference call material. He talked about going to a leper colony and orphanage and building fences.
“It taught me to not take things for granted. It built into the character I am right now. It helped me learn to take it one day at a time,” Trevathan said. “There will be people that don’t see like you do, but you’ve got to learn how to live. Live your life and do not worry about anything else.”