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July 22, 2011HOOVER, Ala. - A reporter posed a theory to Danny Trevathan at Southeastern Conference Media Days on Thursday.
Isn't it possible, the hypothesis went, that the Kentucky linebacker could have a better season as a senior than he had as a junior and still end up with fewer tackles than the SEC-leading 144 he totaled a year ago?
Trevathan stopped short of turning up his nose before conceding that, sure, it was possible.
But honesty being the best policy, he preferred not to pretend that he'd be OK with a statistical dip.
"I want more tackles," Trevathan said. "I'm always going to want tackles. That's just who I am, really. I think tackling somebody is just like taking everything away from them. I think of the ball as something they took from me, and I'm trying to get it back."
So while Trevathan will admit he can play better - he can cause more than the four fumbles he had last season, could intercept some passes, which he didn't do as a junior - he hopes not to sacrifice those tackle numbers.
They mean too much to him. Racking up tackles - 10 or more in UK's final nine games last season - is how Trevathan made his name.
And it's becoming a household name in college football circles.
Bot the SEC coaches and the reporters who cover the league named Trevathan to their preseason all-conference first team. He's on the preseason watch list for the Butkus Award, presented annually to the nation's top linebacker. He's getting some preseason All-America mention.
If Trevathan played for Alabama or LSU, he'd likely be an even better-known commodity, though UK coach Joker Phillips turns up his nose at that suggestion.
"He's doing a lot here," Phillips said. "He was first-team All-American in some polls. He's all conference here. I don't think you can go any higher in recognizing a guy than that. He's at Kentucky. He had 144 tackles last year and we're looking for him to have a big season this year."
But UK quarterback Morgan Newton said even the accolades that have come Trevathan's way this preseason have been insufficient.
"Danny's better than people think," Newton said. "He's preseason All-SEC, and he's better than that."
But Trevathan isn't satisfied. He still sees room for improvement. He can get more tackles. He can make more big plays. More than anything, he sees gaps in his leadership that he's working to fill.
"I'm trying to be the complete leader," Trevathan said. "In order to take my game to the next level, I've got to learn to be that real leader, that true leader that (teammates) come to when they need somebody to talk to or need somebody to just chill with."
And while Trevathan wants to hand out hits on the field, he also wants to be a more giving teammate. He vows to give more credit to his defensive line. He promises he's going to elevate the players around him.
"This year, I'm going to try to bring a lot of people with me," Trevathan said. "I want the whole defense to get 100 tackles, if that's possible."