Minter on Ukwu, Wilson, Neloms & others

Why does UK Defensive Coordinator expect the UK defense to be better in 2011? Minter said, "(The players) are try-hard guys and that's all as a coach you can do is ask them to try really, really hard and they have. That's one reason we have a chance to be better. They want to be better and are trying to get better."

UK Defensive Coordinator Rick Minter knows that linebacker Danny Trevathan, UK's leading returning tackler, and linebacker/safety Winston Guy are projected as the likely stars of UK's defense. The UK?defensive coordinator, though, thinks he has other rising stars.

"I think there are three guys to really keep your guys eye on who have opportunities to make giants leaps from at least what people's perceptions of them are and not and perhaps from their production from my standpoint," Minter said. "One is (end) Collins Ukwu. I believe he will have an outstanding junior year for us because he is a guy that people didn't know much about two years ago because of his projectability and size and growth. Well, he's growing up now. He is 255, 260. He plays with great emotion and confidence that he may or may not have had a year or two ago.

"Another kid would be Ridge Wilson, a Kentuckian. He has the opportunity by his placement and position (at rush linebacker) and techniques to really take a major step forward in his career. People have to keep in mind when you have been on a campus for two years versus three years. Unfortunately for us, he played (sparingly) in his first two years. He is entering his third year with two to go. That won't matter the next two years, but in reality three years from now you would love to have that kind of guy coming back one more time (because he was redshirted).

"Then keep your eyes on (safety) Martavius Neloms. I think he is ready much like Ridge to step up and enter that third year of existence on the team and assume a strong role for us and really take his game to another level. There will be a bunch of other guys, too. But those three could be ready for breakout years."

He calls former walk-on Luke McDermott "a survivor" on the defensive line "who does a heck of a job" always doing the right things. "But I have enjoyed working with all these kids. They are try-hard guys and that's all as a coach you can do is ask them to try really, really hard and they have. That's one reason we have a chance to be better. They want to be better and are trying to get better," Minter said.

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