June 28, 2012

A closer look at: Robert Ayers

It has been a slow period since the draft and OTAs, plus there now not being anything major happening between here and training camp I was looking for ideas for posts that I could possibly do. Having recently done some rookie bios about players we had drafted I thought it may be interesting to take a look at current veterans on the roster. With this idea in hand it was then time to decide which player I would take a closer look at. Easiest way to pick a player was to look at the complete list of the roster at DenverBroncos.com. It did not take me long to decide on a player I wanted to look at, number two on that list was Robert Ayers. I thought Ayers could be the perfect player to dig a little deeper into because outside of the perspective and opinion we already have what do we really know about Ayers?

There are a few things we do know. He was drafted out of Tennessean at the 18th overall pick by first year head coach Josh McDaniels. He was converted from an DE to an OLB for his first few years before being switched back to DE with the hiring of current head coach John Fox. He has been labelled a one-year wonder, a bust, a reach, over-drafted or 'never living up to his draft pick' since his arrive in Denver. This is mainly due to his poor sack numbers since entering the league. Though it has been noted he is one of, if not the best run defender on the team and he played much better in last year's playoffs.

Other than that there is not much being put out there about Ayers. Our entire fan knowledge of Ayers is summed up in a single paragraph. Let's try to expand and build upon this with what I have gathered here.

To being with first here is Ayers's personal information.

Date of birth: (1985-09-06) September 6, 1985 (age 26)
Place of birth: Jersey City, New Jersey
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) Weight: 274 lb (124 kg)

African Studies major. Born as Robert Earnest Ayers, Jr

Highschool Years:
Ayers attended Marlboro County High School in Bennettsville, South Carolina. He was an All-State linebacker and was selected to play in the 2003 Shrine Bowl as a senior. Added All-South honors from Fox Sports Net and was a Top 100 Dream Team choice by Prep Star. Super Prep rated him the third-best linebacker prospect in the nation and the second-best overall prospect in the state of South Carolina. ESPN's Tom Lemming rated him the seventh-best linebacker in the country and he received a four-star ranking from Rivals.com. His senior year he recorded 112 tackles and intercepted five passes. As a junior he had 94 tackles, eight sacks, and three interceptions, he also returned kickoffs in 2003. Best game as high school senior was 28-tackle performance against Clover. In addition to lettering in football he lettered in track as a sprinter, running the 100-meter dash and 4 x 100 metres relay. He was coached by Dean Boyd.

As a graduate at the time, recruiting sites like Scout and Rivals preferred Ayers as a linebacker due to his 4.5 (Also seen it as 4.6, 4.68 below) 40 time and 227-lb weight. He was fast and had a knack for getting into the backfield in a hurry; in his senior year, nearly a third of his tackles were for loss. Like most high school standouts, Ayers played on both sides of the line of scrimmage, he played FB on offense.

For me I thought it was very interesting that Ayers came into college as a stand-out linebacker not a defensive end. This could have been one of the numerous reasons McD thought Ayers was suited to play OLB (outside linebacker).

Highschool Vids:
Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Note: It should be noted I am relying heavily upon the opinion and knowledge of this post, linked here and referenced at the bottom. As a Vols fan, supporter and follower the writer would have a better knowledge of Ayers's college years than an outside observer like me and should be a decent reference point.

Below is an article with comments from HC Boyd.

2004 Before joining College
Marlboro County High School linebacker Robert Ayers returned from Gainesville this past weekend and enjoyed his stay there, according to Marlboro County coach Dean Boyd.

"He had a very good time," Boyd said. "I do know that he has a very good relationship with coach [Charlie] Strong."

Two schools are leading in the race to land Ayers' skills at linebacker.

"I really think it's between Florida and Tennessee," Boyd said.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker runs a 4.68 40-yard dash and grabbed seven total interceptions during his junior and senior seasons.

Boyd said Ayers' effectiveness against the passing game stems from time spent watching game film.

"He can watch a game or two on a team that we're playing, and he'll figure out their tendencies and what they like to do," he said. "There's times out there that he's calling out [the offense's] plays before they happen."

Boyd said Ayers has good instincts for where plays will develop and delivers punishing tackles when he sets his eyes on a target.

If he applies himself, Ayers should be able to develop his impressive physical talent and be a quality player on defense.

"He could be an All-America," Boyd said. "It's all up to Robert. The ball is in his court."

Coming into college Ayers was big, fast and strong. You could not ask for much more out of a defensive linebacker prospect.

Well, except for a little maturity.

If there was one red flag about Ayers coming out of high school, it was his academic work ethic: he didn't have one. Like so many kids who found their path to popularity through sports, he was content to simply get by in the classroom and enjoy life on the gridiron with little regard to the future. It's a pattern that would come to haunt Ayers in his first few years at Tennessee.

Redshirting the 2004 season, Ayers had little more to do than enjoy campus life, grow, get stronger, and get faster. And that extra time - coupled with a lackadaisical attitude toward his studies - came when the Volunteers football team was perhaps at its most bankrupt point in terms of player responsibility and accountability. Having enjoyed so much success over the last several years (including near-total ownage of the Zookified Gators), the Vols were cocky. Players like "The Future" Kelley Washington had set the tone in previous years with a "me and the NFL" attitude, and several Vols had come to believe that the orange on their backs was a caste mark indicating their inevitable ascension to the country's premier sports league. College was a time to lift weights, look good, keep reasonably out of trouble (with a loose definition of "reasonable"), and prep for the millions of dollars coming down the pike.

That was not the environment Ayers needed at the time. Like so many college kids, time away from home was time to fuel the bad habits that hadn't been eliminated yet. Without rehashing his off-field record (personally I would like to know more but I couldn't find it), it suffices to say that his final incident with the police came as an aggravated assault charge in 2005 with Jerod Mayo. Along with linebacker Rico McCoy, Ayers was charged with aggravated assault in March for hitting a student during a campus party that erupted into a fight between members of a fraternity and the Volunteer football players. Mayo and Ayers turned themselves in to authorities and were released on their own recognizance from the Knox County Detention Facility in March. In August, Ayers pleaded to a reduced charge. At the time of the incident, police responded early on the morning of March 5 to the University Center and found four fights outside and one fight inside. Holes were punched in the walls of a ballroom and a picture frame had been smashed. Ayers was suspended from the team. Head coach Phil Fulmer wouldn't suspend Mayo. He believed the charges against Mayo are a case of mistaken identity. "We've got some very immature young men on this football team, and certainly, if not immature, socially unadjusted at this time. I'm extremely embarrassed and disappointed in the actions of a number of our players over the last several months," coach Phillip Fulmer said. "I apologize to the university community, (University president John) Peterson, (athletic director) Mike Hamilton and all the fans that follow our program. We have a large majority of our guys doing the right thing and a few that have embarrassed us in a very big way." For more click here.

Yet through it all, Ayers continued to get bigger and stronger. Ayers wanted to be a linebacker but agreed to slide to defensive tackle, where the Vols had serious depth concerns. Ayers redshirted as a 230-pound outside linebacker, having bulked up to 250 pounds prior to the 2005 campaign, he made that shift, he backed up All-SEC choice Parys Haralson. Like so many others under Fulmer, Ayers didn't start in his first year as a player, though he made an entrance into 9 games. The stat line wasn't very impressive in relief duty (6 total tackles, 1 sack for a loss), but he was now working his way onto the field.

For those who don't follow the Vols, that last paragraph's recap of the 2005 season sweeps a tremendous amount of dirt under the rug. 2005 is known in the Big Orange land as TSOWWDNS (The Season Of Which We Do Not Speak): the year where the preseason 3rd-ranked Volunteers finally fell to their own hubris to end with a 5-6 record - the first losing record ever under Fulmer and the only year they ever lost to Vanderbilt (and that in Neyland Stadium, of all places). A general lack of team unity and purpose, and a lack of cohesiveness at the quartback position brought humility to the Vols in a big, big way. Oddly enough, this may very well have been the best thing that could have happened to Ayers.

For all of his neck-hugging and butt-kicking, Fulmer had a hard time getting through to Ayers in the early years. It's not hard to understand why: when a self-admittedly immature 19-year old has a few coaches telling him to grow up, a whole team of players fueling his playful instincts, and a seemingly inevitable track to the NFL Draft, one of the two messages is at a severe disadvantage. 2005 largely changed all of that; the clean-up of attitudes progressed at a much quicker pace once the team learned they were not invincible. Slowly and fitfully, character began to re-emerge in the team as players realized that the privileged post-collegiate existence they had come to assume was not at all certain.

Slowly, reality set in and the hunger returned, but it was not all at once.

Though the off-field issues ended for Ayers in 2005, he still had his academic problems to work through. The kid just wasn't a good student. Between his early legal problems and a tendency to flirt with academic ineligibility, Ayers's total off-field record would have been sufficient to keep him riding pine (or perhaps dismissed) from some other teams. Yet the one character trait of Fulmer that was both his biggest weakness and his biggest strength was his willingness to give players a second chance. Fulmer knew very well that most of his players had no recourse if they failed to complete college; they would simply return to their previous lives and pick up where they left off. In the case of an athlete with a hard-luck background, Fulmer often felt that yanking a scholarship was equivalent to condemning the player to a failed life. Whether this level of compassion is justified is a debate for another day, but it suffices to note that Fulmer would not drop a player that he felt still had a chance to turn his life around. Sometimes, Fulmer was burned by this approach.

And sometimes, Fulmer was right.

Somewhere in the middle of the uncertainty, the humility, the academic issues, and the inevitable nearing of the end of a college career, Ayers began to realize that racuous living had a very short shelf life. Slowly (and probably very painfully at times), he began to develop the personal maturity that he had lacked previously. There is little mention in news articles about the turnaround in these years, but reading articles about Ayers prior to 2006 compared to articles written after 2007 shows a complete turnaround: the timbre changed from writing about a physically gifted kid with little room for sense to a beast of a man who was a team leader and on pace to graduate.

Ayers shifted to right end the in 2006, playing behind Antonio Reynolds, but was hampered early in the 2006 season by a left hand fracture suffered in August camp. He would produce 25 tackles (17 solo) with one sack in 13 games, earning two late-season starting assignments.

In 2007, Ayers was a reserve, again behind Antonio Reynolds. Even though he was used off the bench, he led the team with four sacks and 12 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He also collected 34 tackles (25 solo) with two pass breakups and four quarterback pressures.

The struggle to turn a life around isn't easy. Bad habits are very difficult to kill, especially when the temptation to feed those habits is still very much alive. Change is coupled with frustration when the mind and body are tasked with responsibilities they've never handled before. Progress is very difficult to notice, and months may go by without any feeling of accomplishment.

But at some point, there may be a moment where all of the effort shows payoff, and the accomplishments of a life changed are instantly recognizable. That moment came for Robert Ayers in the summer of 2008. During the marketing runup for the upcoming football season, billboards across Knoxville began to be covered with UT football ads. Photos of Fulmer, Eric Berry, Jonathan Crompton, and Arian Foster grew to life. And the most prominent UT football billboard in all of Knoxville - the one located near campus off I-40 just east of the Alcoa highway exit - featured only one person.

Robert Ayers.

The pose (seen here) in its reproduction in poster form) marked the defensive end from South Carolina as the image of the new campaign, "Carry the Fight". Seeing himself on the billboard, Ayers suddenly realized how much the team had come to depend on the one-time classroom slacker. One of the defensive campaigns for the 2008 year, Ayers turned in one of the brightest performances in all of the SEC during the second - and final - losing campaign of Fulmer's career.

Regarded as one of the nation's premier defensive players coming out of Marlboro County High School, Ayers struggled to earn his place with the Volunteers until his senior season.

For all of Ayers' physical ability, the coaches admit that he just recently emerged following a few inconsistent seasons.

"When Robert got here, he thought he was God's gift to football," former head coach Phillip Fulmer said. "He wouldn't listen to the upperclassmen -- not in a bad way, but he just didn't take to coaching very well. (As a senior) he's starving for coaching, and he's giving great effort. He's turned into a big-time SEC defensive end."

Renewed dedication helped him emerge as one of the few bright spots during a troublesome season for the Vols. He would go on to earn All-Southeastern Conference honors and shared the Andy Spiva Award, given to the team's most improved defensive player.

As a senior, Ayers caught fire at midseason to deliver 49 tackles (34 solo) with three sacks, leading the team and league with 15.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He also had six pressures and his first career interception. As a senior in 2008 Ayers became a starter at right defensive end, recording 49 tackles, three sacks, and a team and league leading 15.5 tackles for losses. He also had six pressures and an interception.

When asked about his off-field issues at the NFL Combine, Ayers was very up-front and honest. He freely admitted his problems during his college career and took the blame upon himself for all of them. He also noted that his last legal altercation was in 2005, that he turned an academic train wreck into graduation, and that he was a defensive captain and First-Team All-SEC. It took some hard lessons along the way, but the St. Clio standout athlete learned to couple his physical gifts with off-field maturity and turn himself into a complete player. It remains to be seen how much his draft stock is affected by having only started for one season, but whoever does pick him up can safely know that he's a character guy: he's "been there, done that" and has ended that chapter in his life.

When Robert Ayers is the first Vol taken in the NFL Draft in 2009, he will be the final star in the Fulmer legacy of caring about his players perhaps a bit too much.

Career Summary:


2008 - Games/Starts: 12/12 ... Led team and finished third in SEC with 15.5 TFLs while earning All-SEC honors from the league coaches and second-team honors from Associated Press ... Contributed two tackles while applying constant QB pressure at UCLA ... Part of DL that held Bruins to 29 rushing yards on 31 attempts ... Finished with two tackles including a TFL against Florida ... Had four tackles, including a TFL at Auburn ... Finished with a season-high five tackles against Northern Illinois ... Had career game against Georgia, finishing with a career-high nine tackles, including 3.5 TFLs and grabbed first career INT ... Credited with two tackles and first sack of season against Mississippi State ... Contributed four tackles including a TFL against Alabama ... Recorded seven tackles in return to home-state South Carolina ... Both tackles were TFLs against Wyoming ... Credited with six tackles, including two sacks and three total TFLs at Vanderbilt ... Added six tackles against Kentucky, including one TFL. Helped UT tie for third in the nation in total defense (263.5 ypg.) and rank 10th in the country in scoring defense (16.8 ppg.).

2007 - Games/Starts: 14/0 ... Paced Vols with 12 tackles for loss and four sacks...Set then career TFL highs against Cal and Southern Miss ... Led team with 11/2 TFLs against Cal ... Finished with three tackles against Golden Bears ... Had two TFLs including a sack against Southern Miss ... Finished with two tackles against Florida ... Led team with six tackles including, three TFLs and two sacks against Arkansas State ... Recorded one tackle and one quarterback hurry against Georgia ... Finished with two tackles an assisted on a TFL against Alabama ... Had three tackles including a TFL against South Carolina ... Finished with five tackles vs. La.-Lafayette ... Had one TFL among two tackles against Arkansas ... Contributed two tackles, including assisting in a TFL against Vanderbilt ... Had four tackles and a TFL against Kentucky ... Concluded season with fourth sack and 12th TFL in Outback Bowl against Wisconsin.

2006 - Games/Starts: 13/2...Made first two starts of collegiate career to finish 2006 season against Vanderbilt and Kentucky...Two tackles and one QB hurry vs. California...Two tackles against Air Force...Nearly had safety against Florida, corralling Gators' Jemalle Cornelius for 7-yard loss to the 1...Recorded sack against Marshall...One TFL against Memphis...Had TFL in three consecutive games (Florida, Marshall, Memphis)...One tackle and one hurry against Alabama ...Three tackles against home state South Carolina... Finished with four tackles against LSU...Logged two tackles against Arkansas...Broke up pass and finished with two tackles against Vanderbilt in his first career start...Recorded two tackles against both Kentucky and Penn State.

2005 - Games/Starts: 9/0 ... Made collegiate debut at LSU ... Posted first career tackle -- sack for 6-yard loss -- vs. Ole Miss ... Career-high four tackles vs. Memphis.

2004 - Redshirted.

Draft Analysis:
Positives: Powerfully built athlete. Good lower-body strength to hold up at the point of attack. Flashes the ability to anchor and split double-team blocks on the edge. Good initial hand punch to stun the offensive tackle. Flashes some upfield burst to challenge wide and has good lateral quickness to redirect inside. Good use of hands to slap away the tackle's hands. Varies his speed off the edge and can surprise a lackadaisical blocker with suddenness. Can close with authority, flashing explosiveness. Versatile defender with experience at tackle and end. Developed into a team leader as a senior. Could be an ascending player who is just beginning to scratch the surface of his vast potential.

Negatives: Lacks an elite first step or the straight-line speed to be true edge rusher. Relies more on varying his speed off the snap and his strength at the point of attack rather than pure athleticism. Moved around a lot in Tennessee's defense and was allowed to exploit mismatches. Likes to tackle high and stronger ballcarriers can escape his grasp. Stepped up his play significantly as a senior and could be a one-year wonder motivated by big NFL paycheck.

Compares To: MARK ANDERSON, Chicago -- Ayers might be the rising star at this position, or 2008 could have just been an aberration. He had three so-so years and even in 2008, it was not until the second half of the season that he started living up to his high school headlines. He might not have the suddenness to play the edge in NFL, but might be a decent fit as an under tackle. (This I find very interesting, since we move him inside a lot.)

Pick Analysis:
The former Vol is an athletic edge player with outstanding versatility. As a potential defensive end/outside linebacker, he's capable of stacking the run while also providing some pass-rushing skill off the edge. Though he has been pegged as a "one-year wonder," Ayers was playing the best football of his career at the end of his senior season, and he may continue his ascent as a rookie.

Injury Report
2000: Did not play as a freshman in high school due to a shoulder injury.

2002/03: Played his last two high school seasons with a torn labrum in his shoulder. I believe this required surgery.

2006: Suffered a left hand fracture in August camp (8/08).

Big hitter:
Here’s a look at how the Volunteers will be affected by his absence.

What They Lose

Statistically, Ayers had a fairly impressive 2008. But the statistics fail to convey the ferocity and devastating hits that Ayers become known for in his time as a Volunteer. (Why don't we see this?)

What’s Next

Perhaps the biggest question heading into Lane Kiffin’s inaugural season at the helm of the Volunteers is the defensive line. Returning only one starter in defensive tackle Dan Williams, and losing the defensive coordinator John Chivas to L.S.U., the defense, particularly the front four, was a primary focus of the Vols’ spring practices.

Fortunately for the Vols, the line seems to have risen to the occasion. Chris Walker, who has moved into Ayers’s old position at starting defensive end, has had a monstrous spring, earning the team’s spring M.V.P. and earning myriad praise from Kiffin, usually containing the word "unblockable." Walker lived up to that description in the first scrimmage, with five tackles, three for loss, two sacks and a safety. The freshman Montori Hughes has also exceeded expectations. He had four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in the scrimmage.

Hughes, a low-rated recruit overlooked by most colleges, is a mobile 310-pound tackle who has been causing fits for the Tennessee offensive line in practice. Kiffin has shifted the junior Wes Brown to tackle from defensive end, and positioned Ben Martin at defensive end. A similar player to Walker, relying on his speed and quickness, Martin rounds out a Volunteers line that has been showing plenty of promise.

The defensive line may not be considered the strength of this year’s team yet — it is lacking some depth behind the starters — but it is clearly no longer a weakness.

Ayers's Draft Rise:
The upswing in performance in the 2008 campaign was sufficient to bump Ayers from a draft "maybe" to a likely first-day pick. Talk seemed to center on a mid-second round pick when the season ended, with the biggest knock that he had such little starting experience relative to other defensive ends in the draft. His ability to sustain his performance over multiple seasons is a complete unknown, and NFL scouts are keyed in on finding uncertainties just like that. Ayers needed some way to prove himself outside the 2008 season; together, the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine proved to be exactly that opportunity.

The Senior Bowl proved that Ayers could succeed outside of UT:

Coming in, critics were concerned about him not being a full-time starter as a Vol for very long. Then he straight whooped Michael Oher last Monday in practice and was basically unblockable in last night’s game, recording 1.5 sacks — the half sack resulting in a defensive TD. He’s a second-round lock who could move up with a strong combine showing. Ayers was the Defensive Player of the Game.

Ayers continued to impress at the NFL Combine. Answering questions about his past and present gave the NFL teams a chance to feel better about his maturity; with Goodell's crackdown on off-field incidents, teams are especially wary about problem cases, and Ayers walked out with a clean slate. His combine numbers were, for the most part, very good, and the only real flaw was making only 18 reps of the 225-pound bench press. (Though, for a guy with arms as long as Ayers, that's not as bad as it sounds.) The hard work, positive attitude, and solid performance gave NFL teams yet one more reason to believe that the Ayers of 2008 was indeed a different player than the cut-up who came into Tennessee in 2004.

So how much did the offseason circuit help Ayers?

As with most players, opinions varied widely on Ayers. Mike Mayock places Ayers as the top DE prospect in the entire draft, and the #5 overall prospect.

SI placed Ayers at #27 overall, with the notable quote:

Ayers played like the best defensive end in the nation last season and his combine workout may have moved him into the first round.

CBSSports places Ayers at #41 (6 in position).

Yahoo! places Ayers as the #2 4-3 defensive end.

Bleacher Report places Ayers at #28 overall.

Here is an scouting report from MHR on Ayers (click here).

As we all know Ayers was drafted by the Denver Broncos as the second of our two first round picks at 18th overall of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Signing with Broncos:
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos on Monday (August 4, 2009) signed outside linebacker/defensive end Robert Ayers, whom they selected in the first round (18th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft from the University of Tennessee. As per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. Ayers signed a five-year contract with $9.7 million guaranteed.

In his rookie season he recorded 19 tackles and no sacks. He recorded his first professional sack in week 1 of the 2010 season against David Garrard of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Broncos Career:
Ayers started his career with the Broncos back at the position he originally wanted to play in college, Outside Linebacker. He played OLB for his first two years under McDaniels and his '3-4' defense.

As a rookie Ayers totaled 18 tackles (13 solo), two pass breakups and one fumble recovery in 15 games (1 start) . He registered multiple tackles in five consecutive games (Games 4-8) and six times for the season. He made his first career start at Phi. (12/27) and recovered a fumble on special teams in that contest.

His second year Ayers was as a starter and he posted 39 tackles (32 solo), 1.5 sacks (6.5 yds.), one pass defensed and one forced fumble in 11 games played (10 starts) in 2010. He tied for the team lead with 10 quarterback hits while ranking fourth on the club with six tackles for a loss. He recorded his first career sack (5 yds.) in the season opener at Jacksonville. He had two tackles for a loss and helped set the edge at Tennessee, limiting Titans running back Chris Johnson to his third-lowest rushing output (53 yds.) in his previous 24 contests. He missed Games 6 through10 with a foot injury.

Ayers made the switch from linebacker to defensive end prior to the start of the 2011 season and recorded a career best in sacks (3-12) and starts (13) in addition to his 39 tackles (25 solo), two pass breakups, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble. During an 'Ask a Bronco' video done by DenverBroncos.com, linked here and referenced at the bottom, Ayers was asked a question about the two different positions:

Q: Having played OLB and now moving back to DE, what do you prefer about DE and will miss most about linebacker? (I paraphrased)
A: I am happy to be back, I do miss LB because it is very versatile, you can drop into coverage, rush the passer and thats fun. But DL is my home and I am happy to be back. But I need to keep working and trying to get better. (paraphrased again).

Notable Stats:
  • A third-year defensive end who totaled 57 tackles and 1.5 sacks (6.5 yds.) in his first two NFL seasons at the outside linebacker position.
  • Started 10-of-11 games played in 2010 and tied for the team lead with 10 quarterback hits despite missing five games due to injury.
  • Recorded a tackle for a loss in four consecutive games to start the 2010 season.
  • Notched the longest scoring fumble return by a Broncos rookie in team history with his 54-yard touchdown on Monday Night Football vs. Pittsburgh (11/9/09).
Here is an article about Ayers done before the Patriots playoff game after Ayers's impressive performance against the Steelers.
Before Pats game:
As the Broncos' starting left defensive end, Robert Ayers must rush the passer and also protect the edge. But has he finally turned the corner?

That's what Broncos fans — and probably coaches — want to know with the third-year pro having made three sacks in his past two games, including two last weekend in the playoff victory over Pittsburgh. Three sacks in two games is double Ayers' total (1½) for his first two pro seasons combined. The 6-foot-3, 274-pounder from Tennessee became a lightning rod for criticism each time the Broncos' defense struggled the past two seasons, or when the sky turned blue.

That comes with the territory when a team expends a first-round draft choice on a player (No. 18 overall in 2009) and he doesn't turn into an immediate playmaker.

"I don't think I'm anywhere near where I need to be," Ayers said this week.

His performance against the Steelers offers optimism as well as a glimpse of his potential. Ayers got to Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at critical junctures of the game.

Ayers sacked Roethlisberger for a 9-yard loss early in the second quarter, forcing Pittsburgh into a third-and-16 while backed up on its 14-yard line.

Bam: On the next play, Roethlisberger's pass was intercepted by Broncos rookie safety Quinton Carter, setting up a Matt Prater field goal for a 17-6 Denver lead.

Then, on the last play of regulation, Ayers ended any Steelers hopes for a Hail Mary finish from the Denver 49 when he dropped Roethlisberger for a 15-yard loss.

"Robert, as the year has gone on, he's grown up; he's grown up as a man," (Then)Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen said. "He's grown up as a player, and he's really gotten better as we've gone on. I expect to see (further) progress in Robert Ayers."

What must be really encouraging to Allen and other Broncos coaches is hearing Ayers say he is not about to rest on his recent laurels. He wants to build on his performance today.

"It's just one game," he said. "I'm definitely not satisfied. I want to keep getting better. I always say I want to be the best player in this league. I'm not even the best player on this defense. But that's what I'm going to keep aiming for."

Ayers appears more comfortable this season as a 4-3 defensive end, returning to the position where he excelled in college. In the 3-4 alignment favored by then-coach Josh McDaniels, Ayers was an outside linebacker his first two years with the Broncos.

The challenge against New England, he said, is to pressure Tom Brady, who completed 23-of-34 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots' 41-23 victory Dec. 18 in Denver.

"Executing — that's the one thing that the Patriots do so well," Ayers said. "On third down, they convert a lot. In the red zone, they convert a lot. When they get in the red zone, we have to hold them to three points or possibly force a turnover. We know they're going to get their plays. But we can't give them gifts."

Here is another article done before the Pats game with quotes from Ayers's highschool coach Boyd.
Before Pats game:
Marlboro County coach Dean Boyd knew it was a matter of time before Robert Ayers would make his mark in the NFL.

For Ayers, a defensive end for the Denver Broncos who played at Marlboro, that moment came Sunday in the AFC Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The third-year player recorded a career-best two sacks in the 29-23 overtime victory.

Ayers and the Broncos travel to New England to face the Patriots today with a trip to the AFC Championship game on the line.

"Robert has grown into a good young man," Boyd said. "If he can continue to play the way he is playing, he is going to help not only Denver but also make a name for himself."

Sunday’s production is what the Broncos had hoped for out of Ayers when they took him with the 18th overall pick out of Tennessee in the 2009 NFL draft. But that wasn’t the case early on in his career.

When he arrived in Denver, Ayers was moved from defensive end to linebacker in the Broncos’ 3-4 system. He managed just 58 tackles and 1½ sacks during his first two seasons.

But with the Broncos moving to a 4-3 scheme under new coach John Fox, Ayers moved back to defensive end this year and even switched back to wearing No. 91, which he wore at Tennessee. He finished the year with 39 tackles and three sacks in helping the Broncos to the AFC West division title.

"Robert, as the year has gone on, he’s grown up. He’s grown up as a man, grown up as a player. He’s gotten better as we’ve gone on," Denver defensive coordinator Dennis Allen told the Denver Post this week. "I would expect that to continue."

Ayers hopes so but thinks there is plenty of room for improvement.

"I don’t think I’m anywhere near where I need to be. … I’m definitely not satisfied," the former Marlboro standout told reporters this week. "I want to keep getting better. I always say I want to be the best player in this league. I’m nowhere near that. I’m not even close. I’m not even the best player on this defense. But that’s what I’m going to keep aiming for, and I’m going to keep working. If I ever get to the point where I am the best player in this league, I’m going to try to keep getting better, too." (Same quotes as above)

And that drive and determination Ayers talks about is something Boyd saw early on in his high school career. Boyd said Ayers watched more film than any player he’s had during his time at Marlboro and that Ayers wasn’t afraid to mix it up even during his sophomore year.

"He would get physical and that is one of the first things a football coach wants to know if a guy is going to throw his nose in the hornet’s nest and find out if he was tough or not," Boyd said. "Once you got that, you knew you had something to work with because he always had the size and speed."

Boyd said he exchanges text messages with Ayers frequently and was able to talk to him in October when the school retired Ayers’ No. 56 jersey (I thought he played in 42?). Boyd will be watching tonight’s game to see how his former player does against the Patriots’ offense.

"It is fun to watch him and know we got a young man working hard, representing Marlboro County and doing the things to make you proud," Boyd said.

Here is Ayers's take on new players, including Peyton.
On new players:
Broncos defensive end Robert Ayers remembers exactly what it felt like to play against Peyton Manning, and it wasn’t good (Manning’s Colts beat the Broncos in 2009 and 2010). Now Ayers said he is thrilled he’s about to be on the same team.

"We want to do our part on defense. We don’t expect him to come here and make us 16-0 and throw for 60 touchdowns and do those types of things," Ayers said. "We know it’s going to take a team effort and everybody working. I think him from watching the way we were last year, from coaching. pretty sure he feels like he’s coming to a team that’s going to work."

Ayers swung by Dove Valley around lunchtime Monday after hearing news of Manning’s imminent signing on Twitter earlier in the day. Ayers, one of the Broncos’ most active players on social media, had been following the saga closely but trying to separate the facts from rumors. Ayers, though, said he wasn’t surprised that Manning ultimately chose the Broncos.

"If you come here, look at the coach Fox and Elway and those guys, the city, the passionate fans here, the guys we have on offense, the offensive line, the running backs, the flexibility coach McCoy presents on offense, the improving defense, I think it’s a great place for him. I don’t think he made a bad decision," Ayers said. "I think he made a great decision. Hopefully we can prove him right and hopefully we can win a lot of games here."

And it doesn’t hurt from Ayers’ perspective that Manning also played college football at Tennessee. The Broncos drafted Ayers out of Tennessee in 2009.

"Me and Britton [Colquitt], now got three," Ayers said. "Fortunately, we’ve got probably the greatest, one of the greatest if not the greatest Vol of all time on our team."

Ayers had always publicly supported Tim Tebow last season, so I asked him (reporter) what he thinks this means for Tebow. Ayers said he doesn’t necessarily feel bad for Tebow because of the business side of the NFL.

"I was telling my father, if they were to bring in John Abraham or Dwight Freeney, I’d welcome them with (open) arms. It’s the name of the business. You can always learn from guys like that," Ayers said. "I’m pretty sure he’ll be open to learning too if we decide to keep him. One thing that won’t change with Tim is his work ethic. He’s going to work. He’s going to grind. He’s not going to change who he is. He’s going to keep working, he’s going to be a leader, he’s going to bring a lot of energy and passion to whatever team he ends up. If it’s here, we’re going to be happy."

Other Appearances:
Like most of the Broncos players Ayers has done work giving back to the community. Here are a few events I found that Ayers contributed too.

Denver Broncos' # 91 Defensive End Robert Ayers was Keynote Speaker at YESS Institute's YESS Mentoring Celebration.

YESS Institute is excited to announce the addition of Robert Ayers as the keynote speaker at its annual year-end celebration at Denver Public Schools North High School. Produced entirely by YESS Institute mentees and mentors from North, West and Lincoln High Schools for their parents and the community, the YESS Mentoring Graduation recognizes the contributions and accomplishments of each student as they work toward high school graduation.

"Robert Ayers embodies the very essence of what the YESS Institute is teaching its students: community leadership, character development and the value of education," said Carlo Kriekels, YESS Institute Co-founder & Executive Director. "The YESS Institute is honored and the students are "super psyched" that Robert will be addressing them at the YESS Mentoring 2012 Graduation Event."

The YESS Institute provides high school students the skills to shift the negative cycle of poverty, dropout and violence into a positive cycle of leadership development, civic engagement and economic contribution through peer mentoring and emotional intelligence. The YESS Institute supports role models, agencies and schools through innovative emotional intelligence curriculum and peer mentoring. In the past 10 years, YESS Institute has achieved a 92% graduation rate for students previously considered the most at-risk for dropping out of school.


Denver Bronco Linebacker Robert Ayers Challenges BMS Students

Mr. Robert Ayers, of the Denver Broncos, addressed the students of Bennettsville Middle School. His presentation was both encouraging and uplifting. The students were actively engaged and excited by the presentation. Mr. Ayers challenged the students to study and work hard to achieve their goals. Mr. Ayers allowed several students to discuss their career aspirations and dreams before the student body. Marlboro County’s own, discussed the importance of family, ambition and setting goals. Dr. Tillar, Superintendent of Marlboro County Schools, was also in attendance.

I think it is great that Ayers is going back to high schools and challenging the kids to do better and focus on their education. Ayers himself has struggled with his commitment and motivation to education which probably limited his potential in college.

Here are my thoughts and things I found interesting while doing this research. I found it surprising that Ayers was a great linebacker in highschool, this I did not know.

I thought his sack production was interesting. He did pretty good in high school with 8 I believe his senior year. But he never was an amazing sack artist in college with 4 and 3 being his best season totals. Seeing and knowing this I don't know why people complain about his sack production. I think he is producing at the level that he is capable of. I just think people are sore (butt hurt) because we could have had Clay Matthews or Orakpo but chose Ayers. Ayers has and still does what he does best and that is stopping the run.

I thought it was cool he tied for the lead on the team for QB hits his last year as an OLB, 2010. It shows he can get to the QB. I would be happy if Ayers produces 5-8 sacks a year for the next decade. Personally I think he is almost there plus I love the job he does hooking up Von Doom.

The arrest and academic issues were completely new to me, this I did not know.

The best part I found about this research is Ayers appearances at high schools to encourage students to pursue their education because Ayers made the mistake of not. It shows me a maturity and growth as a man, this I respect.

As has been the case with Ayers there is still that approach to 'wait and see'. We as fans are willing to give him another year in his natural position to better himself. But Ayers will need to step up his game to get that next fat contract as his rookie deal draws to a close.


DenverBroncos.com, Wiki, Tennessee - Rivials, Yessinstitute, NFL profile, NFL draft, UTsports, Den Scout, AskVille, BMS, MHR - Signs, DP.com, DenverBroncos.com Blog, DP.com Blogs,

Part 1: Rocky Top Talk 1

Part 2: Rocky Top Talk 2

Gainesville, SCnow, CBS Sports

Govolsxtra 1

Govolsxtra 2


Ask a Bronco

That is it from me for a while, enjoy ~ Aussie.

June 9, 2012

Rookie Bio - Danny Trevathan

The next new rookie Bronco is our sixth round pick, Danny Trevathan. He is an undersized, instinctive linebacker and comes into the league with a big chip on his shoulder. Here is his rookie bio...

Danny Trevathan is an American football linebacker now with the Denver Broncos. He was named an All-American by College Football News in 2010 as well as first team all-Southeastern Conference. Following the 2010 season, Trevathan completed the 2011 NFL Draft evaluation process but chose to return to Kentucky for his final season.

Trevathan was born in Youngstown, Ohio to Vincent Hicks and Michelle Hicks. His father played college football at the University of Toledo. He attended Leesburg High School in Leesburg, Florida.

Date of birth: March 24, 1990
Place of birth: Youngstown, Ohio
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 232 lb (105 kg)

He has a major in family science.

Community Cats: Worked with children during a service trip to Ethiopia (2011).

He attended Leesburg High School, Leesburg Florida and was Coached by Charles Nassar.

Danny is an athletic linebacker who plays with speed and intensity. Danny was a three-year starter for Leesburg (Fla.) HS, helping the team go to the state playoffs all three seasons. He was third-team all-state, covering all classifications, by the Florida Sportswriters Association. He was named first-team All-Central Florida by the Orlando Sentinel. He also was the Area Defensive Player of the Year for Lake and Sumter counties by the Sentinel. He was also the Area Defensive Player of the Year by the Leesburg Daily Commercial. His senior statistics included 117 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 5.5 quarterback sacks, two fumble recoveries (one returned for a touchdown), and three caused fumbles. He played quarterback and running back on offense. He played in the Central Florida East-West All-Star Game following his senior season. He played for the winning West team, causing a fumble with a big hit and had a long return on another fumble to set up a touchdown.

He rushed 56 times for 427 yards, a 7.6-yard average, and three touchdowns and notched 98 tackles, including 17 for loss, along with five caused fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and six sacks as a junior. He was timed as fast as 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He was an All-around athlete who was a member of the school's weightlifting, basketball, baseball and track teams. He ran the 100- and 200-meter dashes in track, along with the 4x100-meter relay.

Before beginning his journey as a college athlete, Danny Trevathan's mother gave him three things to live by as he embarked on life as a Wildcat.

Trevathan’s mother told him to always keep God first, stay humble and no matter what he did, he had to make sure he did it better each time and better than those around him.

Those messages were delivered to Kentucky’s senior linebacker yet again after he received the harsh news via text from his parents that his name wasn’t on the list of 12 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top linebacker.

Trevathan, who leads the SEC with 111 tackles through nine games (he led the league with 144 last year), said there was a short moping period before he decided he could use this as fuel. Instead of throwing a pity party, he used the snub as motivation.

"It crushed me, to be honest, but it kind of made me get into the groove of things, grind it out a little more and push a little bit harder,” Trevathan said. "It made me want to prove to the world, prove to everybody, that I did deserve to be on it.

"I’m not a cocky person, but I think I deserved to be on the list at least. That’s every linebacker's dream, and not being on that list is just going to make me a better person and overall a better player."

Trevathan isn’t arrogant by any means, but he certainly has the right to be upset by being overlooked.

Outside of his triple-digit total tackle number, he has seven tackles for loss, including two sacks, four interceptions, has defended seven passes, and has forced three fumbles. In conference games, Trevathan averages 13.6 tackles per game.

In new defensive coordinator Rick Minter’s multiple defense, he is perfect for the Will linebacker position, but has the versatility to play at each of the linebacker spots.

With Trevathan’s vision, intelligence, speed, power and awareness, Minter said it was a no-brainer to have him quarterback the defense. Despite multiple sets taking form in the 4-2-5, 3-4 and 4-3 at times, learning every aspect of this defense is nothing short of complicated, but Trevathan has it down and has it down well.

For a player who entered the season with a sparkling résumé, Minter said it would have been easy for Trevathan to challenge new teaching and go his own way.

But he came right out during his first day with a new system ready to learn and improve. Now, finding things to improve in Trevathan’s game was and remains hard for Minter, but he sees a much better leader now than he did prior to the season starting.

"He’s an outstanding football player, to say the least," Minter said.

"He’s a team guy all the way."

Trevathan responded to his new coaching well and it’s paying off. While he might not be getting the respect he deserves nationally, he’s been a terror in the SEC this season. He’s the backside linebacker used to constantly disrupt running games. He primarily stays in the box, but has the speed to branch out if needed, and if he does, good things usually occur.

And he’s done it despite the sluggish season for the Wildcats.

Trevathan said it’s been a rough year, but he can see things turning around with a win over Vanderbilt, putting the Wildcats a win away from being bowl eligible. The season started poorly, but this team is starting to "get into the groove of things," Trevathan said.

"All good people, all great people have to go through something tough to get better," he said. "This year showed us that if we don’t play our game, we’re going to lose. Guys really know how hard it is and know they have to really work now. Guys have been through that now, so we know how hard it is to get to the top and we want to take it to the next level."

Speaking of the next level, Trevathan should find himself there soon. With his ability and his college career, there is no doubt in Minter’s mind that he’ll see Trevathan playing on Sundays next year and beyond.

Minter’s coaching experience dates back to the late 1970s, and he’s seen his fair share of good defenders, but Trevathan will go down as one of the greats and he doesn't need the Butkus Award to reinforce that.

"This is not the first good linebacker that I’ve seen," he said, "but he is as complete a linebacker as I’ve ever had the privilege to be around and coach."

His statistics are as follows:

2008 (Freshman): He saw action in all 13 games and was a mainstay on special teams. He totaled five tackles and blocked a kick against Georgia that set up a Wildcat touchdown.

2009 (Sophomore): He played in all 13 games, starting six and was named UK’s Most Improved Defensive Player as chosen by the coaches. He was the team’s second-leading tackler with 82 stops and made a career-high 14 tackles in the win at Auburn. He also hit double figures with 10 vs. Alabama. He recovered a Georgia fumble at the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter of University of Kentucky’s upset of the Bulldogs. He notched eight tackles, one for loss, and caused a fumble vs. Clemson in the Music City Bowl.

2010 (Junior): He earned first-team All-America honors from CollegeFootballNews.com and was a first-team All-SEC choice by a number of national organizations, including the SEC coaches themselves.. He led the SEC in tackles with 144, an average of 11.1 tackles per game and averaged 11.5 tackles in SEC games. He was second in the SEC in fumbles caused with four. He also led UK with 16 tackles for loss and was third in the SEC in that category and tied for the team lead with three sacks. He had double-digit tackles in 10 games, including the last nine games and led UK in tackles in 10 games, including a career-high 17 tackles vs. Auburn. He was SEC Defensive Player of the Week in the season opener when he had 11 tackles and 3.5 for loss vs. Louisville.

New co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter has been impressed with what he’s seen of Trevathan since arriving in Lexington in 2010.

"He’s a natural inside linebacker because he sees things," Minter said.

"You have to have a natural sense because things are coming at you from all angles, guards are pulling in both directions, so many other things.

"Inside guys have to have that feel. Danny’s got that."

Trevathan’s generally low-key nature is a sharp contrast to his play on the field, where he’s a tireless ball of energy that seems to be around the ball on every play.

"On the field, he’s a crazy man flying around everywhere trying to bust somebody’s head open," said junior linebacker Ronnie Sneed, one of Trevathan’s closest friends on the team. "Off the field, though, he’s not a real loud guy or anything like that. He won’t stand out in a crowd. If you didn’t know it, you wouldn’t think you were a guy who made first-team All-American. He doesn’t look for attention. He just gets attention because he’s good at what he does."

Trevathan’s breakout season has led him to a crossroads: He’s considering skipping his final season and entering the NFL Draft.

Trevathan said he will go home to Florida after the BBVA Compass Bowl and make a decision. The deadline for underclassmen to declare is Jan. 15.

At times, Trevathan has seemed like the only playmaker on the University of Kentucky’s defense, so on paper his loss would seem like a crippling blow heading into the 2011 season. But Trevathan said he’s confident his teammates would hold down the fort in the event he does turn pro.

"If I leave, I don’t think I’ll be missed as much as a lot of people think," he said. "We’ve got a lot of good young players. It’s just like when Micah (Johnson) and Sam (Maxwell) left. The next guy steps in and gets a chance to show what he can do."

Minter said he’d love to have Trevathan back — "He makes me a better coach” — but understands the decision-making process. He’ll try to sell Trevathan on the opportunity to return to play in what Minter said will be more of a pro-style defense next fall.

"There’s something to be said about the college experience," Minter said. "Hopefully, the sweet taste in his mouth is maybe a sign of some things to come. The anticipation of doing something differently, we’ll have more of an NFL-style approach on defense next year, and maybe that can benefit him over the next 12 months and he can position himself a little higher next year.

"I’d love to have him back, but the ship sails regardless," Minter said. "We’re going to have a season next year, and there’ll be a ‘Will’ (weak-side) linebacker in there. We hope it’s number 22."

In 2011, while leading the SEC again in tackles through 9 games, Trevathan was not named a finalist for the Dick Butkus Award, the top honor for college football linebackers. He was the starter at weakside linebacker his last season in games that University of Kentucky opened with a three-linebacker lineup. He showed his toughness by playing almost all of the season with a cast on his hand to protect a broken wrist bone. His chief asset is the outstanding speed he has for a linebacker. He has complemented his speed by adding another 15 pounds in the weight room. He has played in 26 games, starting six.

Danny Trevathan is without question the best defensive player that University of Kentucky has on the team. He plays the game faster than anyone else on UK’s defense and understands the game maybe better than any other player on the team this year. Coach Joker Phillips had it right today during the post game press conference when he said that Trevathan makes plays when they need to be made. Some players miss assignments and miss tackles, but Trevathan is a guy who will finish plays more times than not. His numbers have increased every year and he is not afraid to play injured. If he gets hurt he really does not want to tell anyone because he wants to remain in the game.

Looking at his stats you see right away that he is the defensive play maker for the University of Kentucky’s football team. There have been seven games so far where he has had double digit tackles, 11 at Louisville, 15 at Ole Miss, 17 against Auburn, 11 against South Carolina, 11 against Georgia, 16 against Mississippi State and 13 against Charleston Southern.

Danny Trevathan turned in the "strongest linebacker performance" for the 2011 college football season, according to a scientific evaluation by the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA).

In a letter notifying Trevathan of the award, CFPA Executive Director Bradley Smith wrote:

"The goal of the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) is to provide the most scientifically rigorous conferments in college football. CFPA recognizes weekly, annual, and multi-season (career) award recipients – selected based upon objective scientific rankings of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams.

"After an extensive review of the existing data, literature, and evidence, it was determined that you finished the 2011 season with the strongest linebacker performance in D-I FBS college football. As a result, your performance satisfies the strict criteria CFPA established for recognition.

"On behalf of everyone at CFPA -- Assistant Director Harold A. Smith, M.D., Academic Review Chair Paul Studtmann, Ph.D., Associate Director Kyle Mauk, M.D, and academic review associates, including former Science Advisor to President Obama, Lawrence Krauss, Ph.D., please accept our sincerest congratulations."

The CFPA will present Trevathan with a crystal trophy to signify the achievement.

"Congratulations to Danny Trevathan, recipient of the 2011 CFPA Linebacker Trophy," Smith said. "Trevathan earned the honor with his superlative on-field performance, notably in tackling and creating turnovers against strong opponents."

Trevathan’s accomplishments during the 2011 season included:

143 total tackles, ranking fifth in the nation and leading the SEC in tackles for the second-consecutive season
Five fumbles forced, leading the nation’s linebackers in that category
Four pass interceptions, second in the nation among linebackers
In addition, Trevathan had 11.5 tackles for loss, three quarterback sacks, five pass breakups, two quarterback hurries and five fumbles forced.

Trevathan, a senior from Leesburg, Fla., ends his UK career ranked 10th all-time on Kentucky’s career tackle list with a total of 374 stops. Trevathan had a total of 20 games with double-figure tackles in his career, including a career-high 17 tackles in 2010 against Auburn, the eventual national champion, and also against Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Georgia.

Trevathan also has had to fight his way through tough times to get where is today. He is a very humble person that would never say he is better than anyone or that his struggles were harder than others. The one thing he will tell you is that he is very thankful for what he has. He says he and his family is a praying family and they will make it through anything by relying on their prayers. In an interview he talked about not having nice silverware growing up and said that he used sporks. Alan Cutler who was asking the questions kind of laughed and asked what a spork was, Trevathan smiled and said, "you know, like a fork and a spoon". Listening to Trevathan talk you get the sense very quickly that he will overcome any adversity that is thrown at him.

College and pro athletes often use Twitter and Facebook to vent, but University of Kentucky football player Danny Trevathan has taken a different approach.

Trevathan said he typically keeps his thoughts and feelings to himself, but his Twitter and Facebook pages are full of inspirational and motivational quotes, religious passages and constant references to his parents, Vincent and Michelle Hicks.

"I’m just trying to be a little more outgoing and share a little bit of me," Trevathan said. "I try not to say negative things. There’s a lot of negative things around here. I try not to be one of those people. I was raised around a good family, a praying family, so I just try and take some of the positivity around me and pass it to other people."

Trevathan also uses the social network to squash any conclusions people might draw when they see his dreadlocks and gold-plated bottom set of teeth.

"A lot of people don’t know who I am," he said. "In other words, people sometimes are quick to judge other people. A lot of people might see me, and they probably say something negative. It’s stereotyping. But I don’t hate people. I just go along with it until they get to know me."

Trevathan has shown what he’s all about on the field. He’s having a first-team All-Southeastern Conference type of season. He’s leading the league in tackles (97) and ranks sixth in tackles for loss (101/2). Trevathan is somewhat small for a linebacker (listed at 6-foot-1, 232 pounds), but he flies around the field, sheds blocks with relative ease and always seems to be around the ball.

University of Kentucky Football player Danny Trevathan "The energy and aggression he plays with really stands out,” UK linebackers coach Chuck Smith said. "Any coach or any fan who watches the game realizes, ‘Hey, this cat’s a good player.’ He’s smart, explosive and can get a quick jump on the ball. Once he gets locked in, he’s locked in. He’s like one of those smart missiles. He just takes off."

Even his teammates feel Trevathan’s power at times. Defensive end Mark Crawford, a 300-plus-pounder, recalled a collision he had with Trevathan in the South Carolina game.

"I’m running to the ball, he nudges into me, and I go flying five yards," he said. "I could only imagine what the running backs and fullbacks and the rest of them feel like."

The problem for the University of Kentucky Football teams defense is that at times, it seems as if Trevathan is the only out there flying to the ball and making plays.

Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips has challenged Trevathan to be more of a vocal leader with hopes that his energy will rub off on those around him, although Phillips noted, "Not a lot of guys can run like him for the position; we want them to play with his fire and desire, though."

Trevathan said it’s important for him to live up to the high standards set by recent UK linebackers: Wesley Woodyard and Braxton Kelley, who came before him, and Micah Johnson and Sam Maxwell, who helped groom him.

Trevathan has often been compared to Woodyard, now with the NFL’s Denver Broncos. But he doesn’t have Woodyard’s personality.

"Wes was a guy that was in everybody’s face, challenging them to perform," Phillips said. "That’s not Danny. He leads by the way he plays. He’s got a lot of respect here with the way he plays and the fact that he’s been around here a long time. When he speaks, those guys have got to listen with the way he performs and shows up. I’d like to see that out of Danny."

Trevathan said he wants to give advice and correct players but he doesn’t want to upset people.

"I tell them," Trevathan said. "But I try not to come at people wrong because they’ll come right back at you wrong, and we don’t need that. … They’re grown men. But there’s a lot of people that want to do it by themselves but might need a little push along the way, and that’s what I’m trying to help them with."

He’s taken a personal interest in trying to lift up junior middle linebacker Ronnie Sneed, one of his closest friends on the team. Sneed had perhaps his best game of the season in University of Kentucky’s 24-17 loss to Mississippi State with five tackles, a half tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry. Trevathan said he doesn’t pay too much attention to his tackle totals despite racking up double digits almost every week. He did notice Sneed’s stat line, though.

"That’s my boy," Trevathan said of Sneed. "I congratulated him after the game. He’s picking it up. He’s a tough guy just like me, but he’s a guy that just likes to do his job. I’m trying to get him to take that other step, and he made a lot of plays last game."

    All-America first team by CollegeFootballNews.com (2010)
    All-America fourth team by Phil Steele's College Football (2010)
    All-SEC first team by SEC coaches, Associated Press, Phil Steele's College Football, CollegeFootballNews.com (2010)
    All-SEC second team by Rivals.com (2010)
    SEC Defensive Player of the Week for the Louisville game (2010)
    UK Most Improved Defensive Player by UK coaches (2009)

NFL draft
The Broncos last pick in the 2012 draft was linebacker Danny Trevathan. They picked him in the sixth round (188th overall). The pick was part of the Tim Tebow to the Jets package.

Trevathan has been compared to current Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard who is also out of Kentucky. Trevathan could make an immediate impact on special teams before moving his way into a rotating lineup.

Here is an interview with Kyle Tucker from Wildcat Blue Nation which is Fansided’s University of Kentucky website. Tucker gives as great insight into the player the Broncos got.

Question: Trevathan will likely see some time on special teams initially. How long do you think it will take him to work his way into the lineup, perhaps as a third down specialist?

Answer: Trevathan should be an immediate contributor on special team’s and should be in consideration for playing time in the nickel packages quickly as well. While everyone has pegged Trevathan as a 4-3 WLB, it’s important to remember that he was playing ILB this past season in UK’s version of the 3-4 defense. He managed to tally up all of those tackles in the SEC behind defensive ends that averaged 260ish pounds, which is very small for the scheme. Trevathan is a versatile player that can and likely will have a quick impact on the Broncos roster.

Pittsburgh's Dion Lewis (28) breaks for a first down run between Kentucky's Danny Trevathan (22) and Winston Guy (21) during the first half of the BBVA Compass Bowl NCAA college football game on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Question: What were his strengths and weaknesses at Kentucky?

Answer: Trevathan’s biggest strengths are his athleticism, solid fundamentals, and ability to find the ball. Don’t let his slower forty times fool you either. He’s been nursing some injuries since the seasons end and people are making a mistake if they think the 4.8 times he ran are accurate. The staff experimented with Trevathan returning kicks during spring practices twice, so you know he’s explosive. I would bet he runs in the 4.5 range when fully healthy. He has been one of the most consistent players in the SEC as well and one of the top tacklers in his three years starting on defense.

On the negatives, Trevathan isn’t a typical 3-4 linebacker and your defensive linemen are going to need to keep the opposing O-Line off of him. He does play much bigger than he actually is though. Also, Trevathan has a lengthy list of injury issues. He played through almost all of them and spent the better part of two seasons with his hand in a cast. It does make his tackling numbers even more impressive when you consider that he achieved them one handed! But again, being a slight linebacker for the 3-4 does leave him open to further injury.

Question: He’s been touted for his leadership abilities much like fellow Kentucky alum and current Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard. Do you see other similarities between the two?

Answer: It’s funny how similar Woodyard and Trevathan’s results are, yet how differently they get to them. Woodyard was always more of a safety trapped in a linebacker’s body that was smooth in coverage and devastating when rushing the passer. Trevathan was a true linebacker trapped in a safety’s body (until he bulked up this past year), and he is a much nastier player. He will take on anyone. Other than that, Woodyard was always a much more vocal leader and endeared himself to Kentucky fans with his personality. Trevathan is much quieter and is a lead-by-example kind of guy that would rather go bust someone in the mouth than give a rah-rah speech. They actually should compliment each other well.

Question: Anything else you think we should know about Trevathan?

Answer: Trevathan is a very good guy and hard worker. He may look tough at first, with the dreads and tattoos, but he is the first guy to pick up a kid for pictures on fan day and he never got in any type of trouble at all while at UK. Denver got a real steal so late in the draft and there is no doubt he’ll be a player for you guys. I really think you got one good on in DT.

Every so often, you find interesting glimpses into a player’s personality from their media guide biography. That is the case with linebacker Danny Trevathan.

His biography in Kentucky’s media guide — and on its website — says he can’t live without two things: his family and "haters."

It’s the cliched "chip on the shoulder," and rarely is this a detriment in the NFL.

"They motivate me," Trevathan said. "That’s always going to be in the back of my mind. You have to pay attention to yourself and strive for excellence. In this world they are looking for you to fail."

Perhaps the "haters" include those who wrote the draft critiques of Trevathan. At 6-feet and 237 pounds he was considered too small, too likely to get engulfed in traffic in the box. With 18 bench-press repetitions at the Combine, he was considered too weak. With a 40 time of 4.70 seconds, he was considered too slow for his size. Although he averaged over 11 tackles a game the last two years, many came from behind.

Some of the same criticisms existed for another Kentucky linebacker four years ago. And as we know now, Wesley Woodyard was a diamond in the rough, going from an undrafted free agent to a key contributor in the Broncos’ nickel defense and their special-teams captain three years running.

"I think our football characteristics are similar," Trevathan said. "I strive [to be] like him."

Look for Trevathan to be placed on a similar trajectory; the Broncos will try to nudge him onto their special-teams units this year.


Broncos sixth-round pick Danny Trevathan always wants to stay humble.

Trevathan was regarded as one of the toughest hitters in the Southeastern Conference, which, of course, is saying something.

He made his presence felt all over the field for the Wildcats, notching 143 tackles as a senior with three sacks and eight tackles for losses. That followed up a junior season in which he had 144 stops, including 14 for losses.

Trevathan said he played more at weakside linebacker at Kentucky, with some work at middle linebacker. It doesn't matter where he plays in Denver.

"I'm just looking to get in a rotation," he said during a teleconference with media covering the Broncos.

Trevathan said he is looking forward to learning from Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard, another Kentucky alumnus.

"I never got to play with Wesley," Trevathan said. "But I think our football styles are similar. I strive to be a leader like him."

Measurables: Ran 4.82 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day workout in early March, but had suffered a hamstring injury during the 40 at the scouting combine the previous week He had a 31 ½-inch vertical jump and a 9-4 broad jump.

Honors: Was named to several all-American teams in 2010 and 2011 Was a first-team All-SEC pick in '11 Finished his career ranked 10th in school history in tackles and had 20 games with at least 10 tackles.

Upside: A highly-productive player who performed at a high level in the toughest football conference in the land. He plays with toughness and quality instincts. He finds the ball and makes the plays.

Question marks: Did not run nearly as well as many other linebackers on the board. Broncos obviously choosing on-field production and intensity over the workout numbers.

Danny is a player I personally think could be the biggest surprise from this draft and I hope to see him contribute in a big way during the preseason games. I will follow Trevathan’s career with interest ~ Aussie.

Danny Trevathan.com, Max Denver, ESPN, UK Athletics, DP.com