By all accounts he was one of the hardest workers on the team, both on the practice field and in the weight room. ""We called him Traps because of his massive neck [trapezius] muscles," says Robert Stinson, a co-captain and defensive tackle. DiGiuro could bench-press 435 pounds, the best on the team.
DiGiuro came from an upper-middle-class family in the Louisville suburb of Goshen, where he was a popular student. Sharalea Sampson, now a Kentucky senior, had known DiGiuro since the first grade; in high school she and Trent were homecoming queen and king. In her room she still has a photo of them together.
"He was like a big brother to me," she says. "He was a very huggable, very gentle person. All of us from high school had a really close bond. It's just so shocking. I've never seen him around anybody who was mean."
"He was a real laid-back guy," says Mann, who met DiGiuro during the player's freshman year. "Ever since this happened, I haven't been able to come up with a reason. I wish I could, to help the police and a lot of people who probably want to feel safe. But there's nothing."
However, it is equally hard for any of DiGiuro's friends to come up with an explanation for an episode that happened on Sept. 25. 1992, when DiGiuro was involved in a brawl at the University Club near the campus. According to court records, DiGiuro, who was described as "very intoxicated," punched a patron and threw a beer pitcher at him. On his way out of the bar DiGiuro picked up another student and threw him against a wall, breaking his leg. He then pushed a girl over some tables.
Up the street a few minutes later. DiGiuro continued his rampage at a convenience store. The owner, Mike Smith, heard a noise in the parking lot and went outside, where he saw DiGiuro pick up a newspaper vending machine and smash it on the hood of Smith's car. When Smith approached DiGiuro, the football player put his fist through the driver's side window, then picked up Smith and threw him on the car hood. As the six-foot. 200-pound Smith told the Lexington Herald-Leader, "He was extremely, extremely violent. He picked me up like a feather. I was afraid of his eyes."
A month later DiGiuro was convicted of second-degree criminal mischief, put on six months probation and ordered to pay $2,500 to Smith for his medical and car-repair bills, which he did. The student with the broken leg filed a suit that DiGiuro's parents settled out of court.
In January 1993, DiGiuro was in trouble again. He was reportedly involved in the theft of some clothes from a Louisville department store; though it was a violation of his probation, he was not assessed further punishment. "He had a rough couple of months there." his father, Michael, told the Herald-Leader after his son's death, "but he was working so hard to put it behind him."
Uncharacteristic violent behavior is often interpreted as a tip-off to steroid use, but Sprague, the team psychologist, doesn't believe that was the case with DiGiuro. "Trent basically told me that these things happened and that alcohol was involved," Sprague says. "My impression was that he wasn't on steroids, because he didn't have the classic symptoms. He was just one of those kids who went into the weight room and worked his butt off." Police searched the house after the murder and found no evidence of any drugs.
DiGiuro's murder came 15 months after another Kentucky walk-on, Ted Presley, had died from a gunshot wound that was apparently inflicted in a game of Russian roulette in his dorm room. That tragedy had hit the players hard, and the DiGiuro case left them reeling. "This was a lot harder for me," O'Ferral said, "because I actually saw it—my friend dead with blood gushing out of his head."