The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

August 10, 2013

White’s looks resemble Bruce Irvin

MORGANTOWN — If you believe history repeats itself, you might believe that West Virginia University has gotten itself a prize in wide receiver Kevin White.

See if this reminds you of anyone you know.

Kevin White comes out of junior college, in this case, Lackawanna Junior College.

Kevin White has long dreadlocks.

Kevin White wears — and this is the giveaway — No. 11 jersey.

Junior college, dreads, No. 11 … does the name Bruce Irvin ring a bell?

It does with White.

“I’m very aware of who that is,” he said the other day before practice. “I had heard of him, but I never paid attention until I got here and saw him and saw what he did.”

OK, Irvin was a defensive end, not an offensive one, but he was one fine player, good enough to become a first-round draft pick of the Seahawks and one who made a mark on the NFL in his rookie season.

White came to town in the spring and went through spring drills, although he tried to do it in obscurity.

“I didn’t want to talk to the media,” he admitted, a certain shyness being evident off the field that doesn’t show its way on the field.

That happens a lot with kids who get off to shaky starts in life. White came out of Plainfield, N.J., a city rich in sports history, having produced Milt Campbell, the 1956 Olympic decathlon gold medalist (the first African-American to earn this title); and Joe Black, the first African-American pitcher to win a World Series game.

White battled grades, however, and it kept him from going directly from high school to Division I football, and a shoulder injury and other problems kept White off the field for two years at Lackawanna CC.

When White finally took the field he made up for lost time, catching 36 passes for 535 yards and six touchdowns on a run-oriented team.

Junior college is not exactly ideal conditions.

“It was not where you wanted to be,” he said. “It was hard. A lot of people don’t make it in JUCO. It’s a struggle. You don’t get the free gear. You don’t get the film room, nothing like that. You don’t get eating for free. The food is different. Everything is different.”

And while you’d like to be a team player, you are playing mainly to get yourself a scholarship at a major college.

“The Lackawanna boys are my brothers, but everyone is for themselves there. Here, everyone is trying to get to The League, too, but it’s different. We gotta win,” White said.

White came to Morgantown as soon as he could, wanting to get started. He enrolled in January and went through spring practice, well aware that with Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and J.D. Woods gone, jobs were there for the taking.

And he began taking, impressing with a touchdown in the spring game as people began thinking of him as a replacement for Bailey.

Those are big cleats to fill, Bailey having caught 114 passes for 1,622 yards and a nation-best 25 touchdowns.

“It’s like, can I do that next? Will my numbers be better or worse?” White said. “I compare me and Sted, and I think, ‘Well, I’m bigger, so can my numbers be better?’”

Better? Probably not. There aren’t many whose ever were.

But he feels coming in January and after spring and summer, he’s ready to stretch to his full potential.

“It was a big help. The plays were hard at first. Now it’s pretty easy. I spent the time getting close to the players. We’re close now on and off the field,” White said.

He also got close with the other junior college players that coach Dana Holgorsen brought in, going big time into the JUCO ranks because he didn’t have time to develop high school players.

“I knew a few of the guys. Mario (Alford) went to Georgia Military, and Brandon Golson, the linebacker, also went there. We played them. The other guys I didn’t know, but they are pretty good kids on and off the field. We spend time together, talking about the old times at JUCO. We talk a little about the season, how we whipped up on them and how they whipped up on us,” he said.

Now, though, the conversation is turning to whipping up on Oklahoma or Texas as they begin to get themselves ready to impact West Virginia’s team this season.

And from what everyone saw of White in the spring, he’s going to play a major role.

After all, he took a short pass and turned it into a long touchdown with a nifty run.

“That wasn’t a surprise,” he said. “Now I kind of expect it. I like to be the guy who gets the ball in his hands and no one knows what’s going to happen. When I did it, it was like I knew I could do it. It was pretty nice.”

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

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