Charles D. Smith
Some two decades ago four young men with Kentucky pedigrees committed to play basketball at UK. The program was on a roll with several high-quality returning players and an anticipated great recruiting class in the fold. An Emory Express envelope popped open at a sorting site in Los Angeles, and suddenly, Wildcat basketball was plunged into darkness.
While many of their teammates left, and many who had planned to come to Lexington did not, those four stayed, worked hard to improve and came within a whisker of going to the Final Four in their senior year. They became one of the most beloved group of players in the long storied history of Kentucky basketball. Coach Rick Pitino nicknamed them the “Unforgettables.” A few years later, the four had their jerseys retired. For Pelphrey, Woods, Feldhaus and Farmer their jerseys now hang in the rafters at Rupp Arena.
This past Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium on Senior Night, 17 seniors were presented with their framed jerseys before another sparse crowd and to modest applause. Most fans would like to forget this season, hire a new coach and move on. Despite working extremely hard, there will be little acclaim, fame, or Big Blue love for this group. When they were recruited, Kentucky was on a run of appearing in bowl games and the program appeared to be on the upswing. As has been discussed ad infinitum, without arriving at a clear-cut reason, this year’s team regressed. Now Kentucky football will start over, once again.
Even amidst such a down year there are a lot of positive stories to tell. Kentucky won for the third straight time on Senior Day and can still salvage some great memories with a win over Tennessee on Saturday afternoon in Knoxville. Three of the senior class have already graduated and most of the rest will get their degrees in December or next May. As the TV commercial proclaims, most of the NCAA student athletes will go pro in something other than their college sport. Reserve offensive lineman Trevino Woods is a great example of how a football scholarship can be used to combine getting an education with learning the lessons that team sports often provide.
Trevino can to Lexington from Athens, Ga. He had been persuaded to play football during his junior year of high school by Clarke Central High School coach Leroy Ryals. Coach Ryals had to convince Woods to play by relating to him all that football could make possible for him. Woods is very close to realizing the possibilities that were laid out before him seven years ago. He majors in Family Science with a minor in Sociology. Trevino wants to take those degrees and become “a high school counselor and coach, that would be a dream come true really,” he offered.
The fifth-year redshirt player has devoted hours and hours of work in the weight room and on the practice field and has learned many valuable lessons there. “The things I have learned here are just life lessons really, just perseverance, not giving up, and just the fact that you have a choice, to be an influence or just do things on your own. You have the choice to quit. You have the power to make the choice to do things yourself. You have the power to change things.”
Trevino will not have his number 74 blue jersey retired and will not be unforgettable to UK fans, but he will not forget his time at Kentucky and the “camaraderie and togetherness” he has with his teammates and the relationships that will last a lifetime. Trevino Woods will be successful in life partly as a result of his experience with college football. Even in a dismal season, good things do happen.