After settling in on offense, we are switching to the other side of the football to breakdown another high level player landed to play for Derrick LeBlanc. Going into Tennessee has not really been a priority for Kentucky since Mark Stoops arrived, but for this class the Wildcats were able to go down to the Nashville area and land a very intriguing prospect.
Similar to a lot of other recruitments, Kentucky became the first Power Five program to offer Tre’Vonn Rybka. The top-425 prospect and near four-star per the 247 Sports Composite was sought after many others after initial scholarship offer from Kentucky. The jumbo defensive end entered last spring with listed offers from Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Oregon, Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State and Virginia. A ton of people got ahold of Rybka’s junior film and deemed him a target worth chasing.
As the recruiting process heated up, Rybka would visit Kentucky while also camping at both Georgia and Tennessee. UGA in addition to Nebraska, Boston College and Texas A&M would also extend offers. However, Rybka decide to commit to Kentucky in August and that had a lot of people around the program excited. He would visit Oklahoma and Oregon during the season, but Kentucky was able to win a hard fought recruiting battle that will end with Rybka’s signature on early signing day.
Derrick LeBlanc was the point man on this recruitment and it was easily his biggest individual recruiting win since joining the staff.
The Football Player
The 6-foot-4 and 280-pound defensive lineman is exactly what UK is looking for to utilize in their three-down front. Tre’vonn Rybka has the size and physicality to play the four-technique (head up on the offensive tackle) required in Brad White’s defense. The Dickson County High School product plays with a very good base and is at his best when occupying blocks and getting penetration. He has the potential to be a top notch run stuffer at the college level and it is easy to see why so many Power Five programs wanted him.
He has the size that you search for to play this position in the SEC, but he also has the athletic ability to make plays. After beating opposing offensive tackles, Rybka flashed some solid tackling ability and was able to pressure quarterbacks. He appears to play with a pretty good motor and is seen making tackles away from his starting point. That is something you love to see from any defensive lineman.
There’s no denying that Rybka is a scheme fit for a 3-4 defense and his best position is that jumbo defensive end that we saw both T.J. Carter and Calvin Taylor Jr. play this season. He has the size and lower body strength to stunt drive blocks and potential double teams from opposing blockers, but also the ability to move around and be a playmaker once he wins his individual battle.
It took Mark Stoops a long time to build up the big line required to run an effective 3-4 defense and a long the way we say many missed recruiting opportunities. Therefore, the staff was forced to constantly head to the junior college ranks and that created constant personnel turnover in the defensive line room. Entering 2017, Derrick LeBlanc has taken over and we have seen some remarked improvement in the trenches.
Hidden in the superstardom Josh Allen brought in 2018 was the fact that UK’s three-down front ate up blocks and allowed all of UK’s linebackers and safeties to run free and cause havoc. This past fall, we saw that defensive line make more individual plays as the development of some under the radar recruits (Quinton Bohanna, T.J. Carter, Calvin Taylor Jr.) led the way.
Due to that increased play, we are starting to see Kentucky’s defensive line recruiting profile increase and the commitment of Tre’Vonn Rybka is just another example of that. The Tennessee native from the Nashville metro area resides in a recruiting hot spot where college football coaches from all over are trying to infiltrate and find players. The fact that UK was able to get on Rybka early and hold off some big time programs is a huge recruiting win for Derrick LeBlanc who is slowly becoming one of the most valuable members of UK’s staff.
The jumbo defensive end is a scheme fit who will only get stronger and in better playing shape after getting into UK’s strength and conditioning program. Seeing what Derrick LeBlanc can do with some players of a higher recruiting caliber entering the program should excite everyone.