Kentucky's Lindley a silent assassin

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Trying to get Trevard Lindley, Kentucky's All-SEC cornerback, to talk about himself or really to say much at all is about as difficult as trying to complete a pass to his side of the field.

As shut-down cornerbacks go, Lindley's about as good as it gets in the SEC.

He's also about as quiet as it gets.

"I talk every once in a while ... when it's necessary," said Lindley, an artist who's majoring in art studio.

On the field?

"Not unless somebody says something to me," said Lindley, who led the SEC in passes defended per game last season (11 pass breakups and four interceptions).

Besides, Lindley's always felt that you do your loudest talking with an interception or key tackle.

"That's what I've always thought, but some people feel the opposite, I guess," he said.

There's no guesswork as to what Lindley's role will be on Kentucky's defense next season. The fact that he returned for his senior season along with defensive end Jeremy Jarmon and linebacker Micah Johnson gives the Wildcats the kind of nucleus on defense to be even better than they were last season.

And Lindley's ability to shut down one side of the field makes everybody better.

"It's obviously huge for our program (that Lindley returned to school) because there's not many guys in the country, let alone in our league, that you can put them on an island and cover people one-on-one as well as he does and make the big-time plays, the interceptions, the key breakups and the fumble recoveries," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. "He's just made so many big plays for us."

Of his nine career interceptions, six have factored heavily into Kentucky wins. And a seventh sent a game into overtime.

Lindley hasn't slowed down this spring. He took an interception back 36 yards for a touchdown in one of the first scrimmages. The Wildcats close their spring Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET with their annual Blue-White game.

Most people, even Brooks, expected Lindley to be getting ready for the NFL draft right now and not his final spring game at Kentucky. According to Lindley, he received a grade from the NFL draft advisory committee in the second- to third-round range. Brooks advised him to go.

Lindley admits that even his parents encouraged him to turn pro.

But he felt like he needed another year to bulk up and get stronger, and he also felt like the Wildcats could build on their three bowl victories from his previous three seasons.

"I'm about 183 pounds now (up from 175 a year ago), and I want to get to 185, maybe 190," said the 6-foot Lindley. "I hurt my shoulder and elbow in the bowl game, so I really couldn't start lifting again until February. I've gotten stronger, but I can still get a lot stronger."

The same goes for the Kentucky football program.

"The Music City Bowl was nice and so was the Liberty Bowl, but we've got the experience and the talent coming back to do more this year," Lindley said.

While he might not seek the spotlight and is the antithesis of a self-promoter, Lindley is hardly underappreciated. He was voted the Wildcats' MVP last season by his teammates and also earned second-team All-America honors.

You just won't hear about it from him.

"He's very bright, a very talented young man and just goes about his business without a lot of bravado and a lot of chest-beating and talk," Brooks said. "He's been one of the more pleasurable guys to coach because you ask him to do something, and he just goes out and does it. He doesn't say much about it, doesn't complain, doesn't get all geeked up and all that.

"He just goes and plays."

Loudly. At least, Lindley's version of loud.