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Trip to Ethiopia helps Trevathan build leadership for 2011 UK football season

On the surface, there doesn’t appear to be much room for improvement on a season where you led the Southeastern Conference in tackles.


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But University of Kentucky senior linebacker Danny Trevathan and the football coaching staff are expecting just that after Trevathan elected to return to Lexington for his senior season.


“Danny’s big deal is we need Danny to be a leader for us,” UK head coach Joker Phillips said. “He has the capability. I saw it in a different country. He has all the tools to be a leader.”


Danny Trevathan, University of Kentucky footballAfter turning down the NFL draft, Trevathan traveled with a group including Phillips, UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart and senior offensive lineman Stuart Hines to Ethiopia on a service trip this summer.


The trip to Africa — during which the UK Athletics group distributed food, planted gardens, visited orphanages and painted a building — pushed Trevathan from his comfort zone, Phillips said.


“Danny could definitely be a vocal leader for us,” Phillips said. “I saw it for seven days with people who had no clue who he was and he did not know who they were.”


This fall Trevathan has taken on the added leadership role during preseason camp, and he says he can tell his younger teammates are now looking to him for help.


“I think that guys have been wanting me to tell them what to do, help them more,” Trevathan said. “I just see another side of these guys, along with another side of me. They want me to help them with little stuff, and I think that’s going to help me get better first and help us be a better team overall.”


Trevathan led the SEC with 144 tackles in 2010, ranked second with four fumbles forced and ranked third with 16 tackles for a loss. Following the season he was named a first-team All-American by CollegeFootballNews.com and a fourth-team All-American by Phil Steele’s College Football.


His list of postseason awards also included first-team ALl-SEC honors from the conference coaches, Associated Press, Phil Steele’s College Football and CollegeFootballNews.com. He has been selected to the 2011 preseason All-SEC team by both the league coaches and media, and he is also on the preseason watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award, Butkus Award, Nagurski Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award.


Despite the preseason hype, fewer tackles for Trevathan in 2011 may mean better results for UK, Phillips said.


“Will he make as many tackles? I hope not,” Phillips said. “That means we’ve had a lot of production from out other guys.”


New UK defensive coordinator Rick Minter’s scheme should help other linebackers including senior Winston Guy, junior Ridge Wilson and senior Ronnie Sneed make more plays, Trevathan said.


“It’s going to allow a lot of guys to shine,” Trevathan said. “Even if I do get fewer tackles, I just want us to be one of the best defenses in the country if not the best defense in the country.”


With just over one week until UK’s season-opener versus Western Kentucky University in Nashville, Trevathan says fall practice has shown him other UK defenders are ready to help share the load in 2011.


“I just see a different attitude,” he said. “That swagger, guys have about themselves. They want to come out here and work.”


For more about the UK Athletic Department’s service trip to Ethiopia, read the KyForward feature “Trip to Ethiopia provides life-changing experience for football players, administrators.”


Photos of trip to Africa from UK Athletics.

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