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White 'finding his way' at UK

August 15, 2003|MIKE MARSEE

LEXINGTON - It's springtime for Durrell White, and things are looking brighter than they have in a long, long time.

White is on the verge of his first football season at Kentucky, a season that took far longer to arrive than he would have liked.

His freshman year was postponed by a knee injury, and while that injury is far behind him now, coach Rich Brooks said he still has some catching up to do as he enters just his second college semester.

"Durrell is still finding his way," Brooks said. "He's a second-term freshman, so (preseason camp) would be like a normal spring practice a true freshman would face."

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After his injury, White chose not to come to UK last summer, instead devoting all his efforts to rehabilitation and delaying his enrollment until January. He joined the Wildcats for spring practice, and he said he has done his best to make up for lost time.

"I think I've caught up pretty well," he said.

No. 2 on depth chart at right outside linebacker

So well, in fact, that White entered preseason practice at No. 2 on the depth chart at right outside linebacker behind sophomore Raymond Fontaine.

"Physically, he's gifted," Brooks said. "He's definitely in a position to play some football for us this year. When he gets some confidence and understands the scheme and gets comfortable with it, he could be a very good football player. We're waiting to see if that clicks."

White said it didn't take him long to fall in love with Kentucky's new 3-4 defense.

"I just think it's a tremendous defense," White said. "I love the schemes, I love my coach. I think we're going to be a tremendous defensive team this year."

The scheme installed by Brooks and defensive coordinator Mike Archer allows for a good deal of variety at White's position.

"I like the fact that I get to go one-on-one with the tight end or plug the gap, and I also get to rush the quarterback," said White, who compared it favorably to a 6-2 alignment he played in high school. "It's not robotic."

White said he knows more now than he did during the spring, and not just about the defense. He said meeting some of his new teammates who arrived on campus for the first time earlier this month drove that point home.

"I got a chance to meet some of the people coming in, and I realized what I looked like in the spring," he said.

What he looked like, he said, was a typical young player who thought he knew more than he actually did.

"Now that I look back, I didn't really know what I was doing," he said. "When you get a chance to reflect on what you've done, you can see that."

Knee is stronger that it was in the spring

White said the knee he injured while practicing for the 2002 Kentucky-Tennessee high school all-star game is also stronger than it was in the spring.

Still, he hasn't see any game action in the last 21 months. And doubters sprung up like weeds in his hometown of Middlesboro and elsewhere as soon as word of White's injury spread.

White said he thinks some of those who opposed his transfer from Bell County to rival Middlesboro for his final year of high school - a move he said was made for family considerations rather than football - weren't sorry to see him go down.

"Some people were kind of glad I got hurt," he said. "I take that as a motivational tool and try to turn it around."

But White said he has nothing to prove to those people.

"I have something to prove to myself, that I can be the best linebacker I can be," he said.



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