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Remember his name: Trevathan could be one of the greats

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Rich Brooks sat down at the Southeastern Conference Media Days in Hoover, Ala., in late July and told the world to remember one name: Danny "Trevathian."

Who? Coach, do you mean Danny Trevathan?

Ever since, Brooks, unbeknown that he's saying it wrong, has mispronounced Trevathan's name with regularity and hilarity among the team. Instead of correctly saying trev-A-than, Brooks has pronounced the sophomore linebacker's name trev-A-thee-an.

"It's so funny," fellow linebacker Micah Johnson said of his coach and teammate. "I make fun of (Trevathan) because coach Brooks says it wrong every time. He doesn't even look to correct him."

Why doesn't he speak up?

"It's coach Brooks," Johnson said. "He can call any of us what he wants to."

As true as that may be, it might be time for Brooks to start learning his name. Trevathan has earned at least that much with his play on Saturday.

Trevathan, a true sophomore, had the night of his young career in the potential season-changing 21-14 win over Auburn. The Leesburg, Fla., native was flying sideline to sideline in Jordan-Hare Stadium, recording a career-high 14 tackles in his first full game of the season.

Brooks said the performance was worthy of Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honors, which ended up going to fellow linebacker Johnson.

"This was Danny's biggest chance to show because we were in regular defense a majority of the game," Brooks said. "I think that we played nickel only six or seven snaps. They ran more conventional personnel even though they spread the field. They have a tight end, and basically two running backs and receivers most of the time. So we left our regular defense (in the game), which is all three linebackers, so that left Danny to record some stats because he has probably only played a third of the snaps in a lot of the games. In this game he was spectacular. He made tackles starting from over here (right fist extended outward) all the way over to the far sideline for 2-yard gains.

"We have never had a linebacker as fast as he is. Wesley (Woodyard) was close to being as fast, but he wasn't as big as Danny, particular at his sophomore season."

It's that type of praise that has led many to believe that Trevathan could be the next great in a recent but long list of linebacker greats at the University of Kentucky.

Although Brooks has had trouble pronouncing his name right, he was spot on in the preseason when he told reporters that Trevathan had the skills, body and desire to be the next Woodyard, Johnson, Braxton Kelley or Johnny Williams.

"Danny Trevathan is a big-time player, pure and simple," Brooks said at UK's Media Day in early August. "He's as good as any four-star guy that you can talk to me about at linebacker. He will have a major impact on this team if he stays healthy this year. He's very fast. He's very instinctive. He doesn't look very big, but weighs about 220-225. He's a very special talent to see so now we will just have to go out and see what he can do."

What he has been able to do has been nothing short of the prediction Brooks offered over the summer. Although Trevathan has been slowed down by a fractured wrist bone and a brief bout with the flu, he's third on the team in tackles with 39 stops, including two tackles for a loss.

Defensive line coach Rick Petri saw that potential when he was recruiting Trevathan out of Leesburg High School in Florida. Although Trevathan didn't have the recruiting stars attached to his name that some of his teammates and competitors did, Trevathan's versatility stood out.

Trevathan played just about every position in high school, taking snaps at linebacker, quarterback, running back, cornerback, safety, wide receiver, punt and kick returner, long snapper, and center.

"He can do a lot of different things," Petri said. "He's very athletic. He was a sprinter on the track team and he was also on the weight lifting team, so he has that combination of explosive power and speed. Being that he played both sides and played a lot of different things, he understood the game."

In addition to his versatility, Petri said Trevathan's raw speed might be his biggest attribute.

"I think you can see that when he came here you could see that raw speed that he has," Petri said. "We knew that he was an athlete and we knew that he was a physical guy and liked contact. It was just a matter of learning the system, learning what to do, getting more playing time and getting comfortable."

Trevathan said he received interest from Florida, Miami (Fla.), Purdue, Central Florida, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Indiana, Arizona State and Buffalo, but he ultimately chose UK after watching the historic upset of No. 1 LSU in 2007.

"I decided this was a college that was going somewhere in the football ranks," Trevathan said. "I felt like they were going to the top."

It's the type of attitude one would expect from a player being compared to some of the all-time linebacker greats at Kentucky.

"I really don't know Wes that much, but I've seen tape of him. He inspired me because of his speed and the way he flies around," Trevathan said. "Braxton was a smart player, a physical player. He was a brute. Micah and Sam (Maxwell) have been big brothers to me. They've showed me the ropes and took me in with open arms."

Trevathan said he can't but help hear the chorus of praise he's been getting this season.

"I try not to listen to it because I try to stay as humble as I can," Trevathan said. "I try to just do my best in everything I do, but you can't help but notice when coach Brooks says stuff like that. It really helps and motivates you to keep going."

It's motivated Trevathan through a painful right wrist injury that by all means could have kept him off the field. Instead, Trevathan has played so well that it's forcing Brooks to find even more time for the speedy 220-pound linebacker.

Trevathan learned this week that he'll have the cast removed in a couple of games, but he admitted that it's held him back from showing his full potential.

"It's hard to grab players, especially real elusive players because it's hard to grab their jersey and get your arms around them," Trevathan said. "I let it stop me at the beginning of the season. Now I've really locked my mind into that this is a part of me and I've got to learn how to deal with it and fly around and get my feet right because I can't use my hands."

Once he gets it removed, Trevathan hopes to start returning kicks, which he started working on in the preseason. Trevathan said he already talked with Brooks about it on Tuesday.

If he's able to do that, well, it might be time for Brooks to start learning his name.

"I'm going to have to talk to coach about that," Trevathan said.

He will have more than earned it at that point.

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