Back on January 26th, Tennessee defensive tackle Tre’vonn Rybka received his first Power Five scholarship offer from the University of Kentucky. Following the Wildcats in the next three-plus months with offers were Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Arizona, West Virginia, Oregon, Oklahoma, Alabama, Virginia, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, LSU, Arkansas, Boston College, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Nebraska. It’s unclear whether each of them were committable offers, but it’s evident that Mark Stoops and his staff were early to the party.
Derrick LeBlanc was the point man on this recruitment and records his second crootin’ win of the 2020 cycle after reeling in offensive lineman Joshua Jones earlier this summer. In the end, the interior defensive lineman picked the Wildcats over Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Oregon as Kentucky dipped into the Volunteer State for a very intriguing prospect. Tre’vonn Rybka is the sixth highest rate recruit currently in this class, per the 247 Sports composite, and adds to an impressive defensive line haul.
Now it’s time to go into the KSR Film Room to show you what the Dickson County senior will be bringing to Lexington in 2020. It’s taken awhile, but under Derrick LeBlanc this defensive line group is climbing the ladder in the SEC.
In Kentucky’s 3-4 defense this season you are essentially going to see a nose man and two guys lined up on the offensive tackles. In a 3-4 Eagle Front, you essentially have two guys lined up on the inside shoulder of the offensive tackles. In football lingo, this is called a 4i technique while the nose on the center is a zero technique. The 4i fits exactly what Tre’Vonn Rybka does best.
In high school, the 6-foot-4 defensive end is an anchor on the line of scrimmage. In the 3-4 scheme, you are playing a lot of isolation football with the offensive tackles and you need to have some power game. Rybka has a loaded lower body with what appears to be a strong upper core. That allows him create a push at the point of attack and make a play. Here that power results in a quarterback sack.
Yes, you need to have big and physical defensive line players at the line of scrimmage that can hold up and battle with big and strong offensive centers, guards, and tackles. That’s the most important part of the game, but you also must be able to move and make plays away from your starting point. On film, Tre’Vonn Rybka does that.
Above you see the jumbo defensive end start on the opposite of the play and in pursuit he factors into the tackle yards past the line of scrimmage. Athleticism and motor is a big part of the position and Rybka shows he has both of those traits.
The name of the game is establishing the run and stopping the run. A big reason for UK’s 10-win season in 2018 was their ability to do that on both sides of the football. We’ve seen Tre’vonn Rybka factor in on pass rush and pursuit, but the best part of his game might just be his run stuffing ability.
On this zone read action, Rybka does a great job with read and react defense. The defensive end delivers a strong punch and knocks the left tackle backwards. He quickly diagnoses the handoff and makes a sure tackle for a minimal gain. His presence here was much needed because the center and left guard got some great movement on the defensive tackle.
At the college level, the defensive end is going to have to make plays exactly like this to be a force in the run game. You must win at the point of attack, read and react, and then make a play on the football.
The Nashville metropolitan area native is another big recruiting win for the UK staff. After years of a slow build which included a ton of junior college plug-and-play players, Kentucky finally seems to be in a good spot attracting talented high school defensive line prospects.
In the 2020 class, Tre’vonn Rybka joins two other prospects (Samuel Anaele and Justin Rogers) who are both blue-chip recruits. All of a sudden, this position group is starting to become a team strength and Kentucky will be hopeful that Rybka will have the same impact as the last time they dipped into Tennessee to grab a nose guard (Quinton Bohanna) in 2017.
On the field, the borderline composite four-star prospect brings size, power, and athleticism. With a powerful lower body and room to add strength on top, he’s a schematic fit for UK’s 3-4 defensive end. It’s another solid 2020 recruiting win and quietly Derrick LeBlanc is becoming one of UK’s most valuable assistants.