LEXINGTON — Sophomore Alvin “Bud” Dupree is not overwhelmed with the idea of trying to offset the loss of sixth-round¿NFL draft picks Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy, the top two tacklers in the Southeastern Conference last season.
“I set lofty goals for myself. One of my goals is to led the SEC in sacks and lead the NCAA. Not trying to compete with my teammates, but just to push them. I try to tell them little things I¿am going to do so they can go hard too and aim for the same point,” said Dupree, who had 21 tackles in 12 games as a true freshman last season after being moved from tight end just before the season started.
Georgia and a member of the Future Business Leaders of America. But on the field, he admits he can be a bit onery.
“On the field, I¿love to talk a little trash and make people get a little fear in their heart. In football, my whole mindset changes on the field. You may see me as nice off the field, but between the lines I¿change a lot. I have always been outspoken. When I¿played basketball, I was the same way. I am a person that likes to talk and make plays,” Dupree said.
He was good enough at Wilkinson County High School to help his team win the Class A state title. That’s one reason he enjoyed watching coach John Calipari’s play during their national championship season. But he also had one other interesting perspective on the team.
“I could have played with them if he (Calipari) had put me on the team,” Dupree said. “When we won the state championship, I¿had 10 (points) and 21 (rebounds). I could have played with them. I could have been a wing out there on the court in Rupp Arena.”
However, both ¿UK¿coach ¿Joker Phillips and defensive coordinator Rick Minter are glad they have Dupree on their team.
“I think Bud had a good, solid spring. He is a little bit beyond his years. He is not a typical freshman. He is mature. Physically he is pretty gifted and he is confident and an intelligent kid,” Minter said. “He is a little further along than some of the guys at the same exact stage being here less than one year and the door being wide open for him to take over that rush backer spot. We have not been disappointed in him.”
“Defensively, you keep hearing the buzz about Bud Dupree and you saw it. The guy is so fast off the edge. He’s what we have to block week in and week out. He’s a real guy. He’s an SEC outside linebacker/rush backer who makes plays,”¿Phillips said.
That should continue to get easier because Dupree says by the time spring practice ended, he had “learned the playbook better” and was far more familiar with the plays after coming to UK¿expecting to be a big-play tight end who could stretch the field in the passing game.
“It has been interesting. I thought I¿would play offense, but I¿had to switch over and help my team. I wanted to play offense and came in with an offensive mind, but knew I¿could do this on defense,” Dupree said. “I could have done the same thing either way. I just wanted to play. I was fine with the move.
“I like the system that (linebackers) coach (Chuck) smith and coach Minter teach and the way they get me to the quarterback and get me out in pass coverage. Coach Minter’s system is very good. It throws a lot of schemes at people as well as different types of blitz zones, pass coverages and things you think you can expect which turns into something else.”
Dupree doesn’t see his coaches’ praise as pressure even though UK¿is coming off a disappointing 5-7 season.
“I like it. I like the publicity and exposure. I just have to show everybody what I can do and have people count on me,” Dupree said. “I like that people are not expecting much out of us so we can show them we are better. I think we are going be a whole lot better than people think. We are not going to be a scrub team. I am pretty sure we are going to be a good team.”
He’s not worried about UK¿having four new starting linebackers, either.
“We play together well. We play as a whole crew together. If one person messes up, Avery (Williamson) will tell us about our plays. If somebody makes a mistake, somebody will cover up for him,” Dupree said. “I always try to play full speed. If I do make a mistake, I¿can always keep running and go make the tackle. It might not look like a mistake, but if I look at tape it will be one.
“My coverage has gotten better and my run stopping has got better. I am a good run stopper now, but also a good pass rusher. Everything is coming together.”
He says one reason is because he spent more time studying film this spring.
“I have to learn how Kentucky football works and how coach Minter’s system works. The things I¿didn’t know out of high school, I¿have learned and I am more familiar with the defense than I was. Things are coming into place,” Dupree said. “I like studying film. I like watching my mistakes because I¿hate messing up. I don’t mess up that much, but if I do I want to know how to correct it and make sure I don’t do it again.¿If I mess up one thing, I am not going to do it again. I¿try to get it to where I¿never make the same mistake twice.”