August 8, 2011

Will Trevathan return kicks?

Danny Trevathan wants you to know he can return kicks.

The UK coaching staff wants you to know he's probably right, but they're not willing to find out.

Trevathan, perhaps UK's best defensive player, has pined for the chance to return kicks since he broke into the starting lineup in 2009. He actually did return kickoffs in the 2009 Blue/White game, but has played with a cast on his hand for much of the last two seasons.

The cast kept him from getting the chance to return kicks, but didn't hold him back on defense. He had 144 tackles in 2010 en route to being named first team All-SEC as a linebacker. Now entering his senior year, Trevathan is still hoping for a chance to win the kick return job. He even spent time this summer practicing kickoff returns.

"I would like the opportunity," he said. "I think it's going to be given. If it's given, I'm going to take full advantage of it. I believe I can do anything. I think me being able to do that is going to show how versatile I really am and how versatile people on this team is."

Special teams coordinator Greg Nord shook his head when asked about Trevathan's

"His best look at kickoffs is going to be covering them," Nord said.

Returning kicks actually wouldn't be anything new for Trevathan. He returned kicks and punts in high school while also playing linebacker and safety. For good measure, he chipped in on offense, playing quarterback and running back.

Randall Cobb continued to return punts in 2008 even after becoming the Cats' starting quarterback, but that's still not quite the same as the idea of Trevathan returning kicks. Linebackers coach Chuck Smith has had some unusual players return kicks for him before �" former UK standout Jacob Tamme did it as a tight end/wide receiver when Smith coached at Boyle County �" but also dismissed the idea of Trevathan taking on kick return duties.

"He's too valuable at linebacker and he's the anchor of our defense," Smith said. "He needs to focus on that."

Returning kicks would likely raise Trevathan's profile and could bring some extra attention to the program, but it would also put one of its best players in the crosshairs. Smith said that he'd prefer Trevathan to focus his time and energy on defense, but head coach Joker Phillips ultimately decides if Trevathan will get to return kicks. The coaches haven't explicitly told Trevathan he won't be returning kicks, but Nord said Trevathan is starting to get that sense anyway.

The coaches say that even though Trevathan is probably good enough to return kicks, he's not noticeably better than any of the other candidates. Factor in the injury risk, and the coaches just aren't willing to put one of their best players in jeopardy.

"Danny Trevathan is a great football player," Nord said. "Could he (return kicks)? He probably could. Danny is a good enough player that he could probably do most any skill on our offense, defense, or special teams. Yet the good of the team and the best interest of Kentucky football is for him to play linebacker and a couple other special teams �" not return.

That doesn't mean Trevathan's dream is totally dead, though

"I'd like to play offense," Trevathan said. "That always was a dream of mine."

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