Second season will not be a shock to White

August 17, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

Ben White thought he was going to ease into college football last year. Instead, he became a starting linebacker for Cumberland College in his second game.

Now White, a sophomore from Danville, hopes to make an even bigger impact for the Patriots this season.

"The biggest change was getting used to the speed of the game and the length of the game," said White. "Everybody was bigger and stronger. I thought I would just be able to get used to being at college. Then I was starting the second game after the opening-game starter got hurt. That was a big shock."

However, White more than held his own. He had 38 tackles, including 4.5 for loss, and recovered one fumble. The Patriots' defense ranked seventh nationally in NAIA by allowing just 253 yards per game and was fourth in rushing defense at 90.9 yards per game.

Even though Cumberland finished the season just 4-6, the defense certainly did its part. Twice Cumberland lost - 6-3 to Cumberland University and 6-0 to Georgetown - when the defense did not allow a touchdown.


Cumberland gave up just 15.5 points per game and eight starters, including All-America linebacker Bo Buchanan, return this year.

"Playing with Bo really helps me," White said. "If I mess up, he's going to tell me about it. But I can also ask him a question before a play and he can tell me what everyone is supposed to be doing. He always does his job. I want to return the favor and do even more this year to help him."

White, who played on two state championship teams at Danville, says he's improved since last season ended.

"Quickness-wise, I'm a lot better," he said. "I've also gotten stronger. I knew how to read defenses before, but I've gotten better because of all the drills we've done and also from being able to focus on just playing one position.

"Playing at Danville really helped me because of what I learned about defense from (assistant) coach (Jerry) Perry and (assistant) coach (Jay) Reynolds. I already knew the drills we used at Cumberland because of what coach Reynolds had taught me. That was a big help and let me jump in and play quicker."

White says he's more excited about this season.

"Last year I felt like I was just a freshman trying to fit in. I really didn't feel like a starter," White said. "Now I feel more part of the team."

Cumberland coach Chuck King expects a big year from White.

"Technique-wise, he really understands how to play the game and where he needs to be," King said. "Last year's experience will make him a lot better this year."

White hopes the Patriots, who won three of their final four games last year, will be better, too.

"My goal is always to win a championship, but the first step is just to win more games," he said. "Our offense has to improve. I think we'll have a very solid defense again, but you've got to score points to win. However, our offense looked a lot better in the spring."

White's former Danville teammate, sophomore Jeremy Vaught, could provide help to the offense. He's being moved from the secondary where he played last year to receiver.

"He has a great heart and he understands how to make plays that win games. He'll come back and catch the ball, something that really impressed me during the spring," Cumberland assistant LT Helton said.

King said his receivers have to be blockers first to make Cumberland's option offense work.

"I love to make big plays, but you control the game with the run and they have to block. I think we'll be much better blocking-wise as a unit this year and Jeremy is going to give us needed help in that area," King said.

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