Wallace can contribute at linebacker as true freshman

Published 7:00 am Friday, August 27, 2021

He’s realistic about how difficult it can be for a true freshman linebacker to play in the Southeastern Conference.

However, Trevin Wallace is also confident he can be a contributor for Kentucky this season.

“I know it is pretty tough to do as a freshman and that most freshmen playing in the SEC are probably at safety, corner, running back, maybe receiver,” Wallace said. “The SEC is the top conference at linebacker. Playing as a freshman is kind of ridiculous right now.

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“It is crazy but I feel real comfortable about it. I feel I can play. I want to play. However, I am also fine with getting gradually brought in at the middle of the season to get experience.”

The 6-2, 220-pound Wallace says senior middle linebacker DeAndre Square has helped him more than any other player and has become his mentor.

“He is real smart and someone I really look up to,” Wallace said.

Square likes what he has seen from Wallace.

“I like his size and love his confidence. He also listens and is not a guy who thinks he knows it all. I think he’ll be an important part of the defense,” Square said.

Linebacker coach Jon Sumrall recruited Wallace out of Georgia and said as soon as he signed that he anticipated he might play this season — and that was before an injury to Ole Miss transfer Jacquez Jones gave Wallace a chance to work with the first-team defense in practice last week. Wallace was the top-rated defensive player in UK’s 2021 signing class and 247Sports Composite Rankings rated him as the fourth best defensive player ever to sign with UK.

“He’s not only a great player but he busts his butt to prepare and get ready,” Sumrall said. “He’s also really, really smart. He knows what he is doing.”

Wallace has run the 100-meter dash in 10.8 seconds and the 200 in 22.09. His best long jump was 23 feet, 4 1/2 inches.

“I just ran track to help my football speed because if somebody is faster than you and you want to keep up with them you have to get faster,” Wallace said.

He also won the state powerlifting competition in his weight class with a power clean of 335 pounds.

“I stay in the weight room a lot. Every chance I get I am in the weight room working. There are no off days for football. You have to work no matter what,” Wallace said.

His final game at Wayne County High School he had to start at quarterback and responded by rushing 28 times for 382 yards and one score. He also played every snap at linebacker.

“I never thought I would rush for that many yards or carry the ball that many times,” Wallace said. “I played quarterback but only threw the ball once. The team we were playing knew what was going to happen and still couldn’t stop it. I think about that game sometimes but that is in the past and I am focusing on the present.”

Wallace admits he had some “ups and downs” with high school coach Ken Cribb when he was a freshman and sophomore before starting to “click” his junior season when he only got to play four games due to injury.

“Our relationship started slow but it got there. It ended up a great relationship and I figured out my senior year that I needed to study the playbook a lot more and that definitely is true here,” he said.

His mother and sister both have had huge impacts on his work ethic. His mother was manager at a McDonald’s in his hometown and he worked there part-time.

“I didn’t want to work but I had to learn how to manage money. If I was late or messed up, I heard about it when I came home. She would call me at 5 o’clock if I was supposed to be at work at 6. She was hard on me but I learned you work for your stuff and don’t ask for nothing,” Wallace said.

His sister served in the military. She’s home now but “taught” him a lot of life lessons.

“As long as I had her and my mom, I didn’t have to worry,” he said. “They kept me straight and I doubt if that will ever change.”