DEMAREE: Durrell White looking for breakout year

Durrell White is slated to be a starting defensive end on UK's much-maligned run defense. The run defense seemingly has been porous since Joe Palooka was in the comic strip of the newspaper.

White came to UK as a ballyhooed football player from Middleboro, Kentucky. He gained over 1,600 yards, averaged 13 yards a carry and was recruited hard by Tennessee. He came to Kentucky on the Robinson Scholarship, which was designed for student-athletes throughout 28 Eastern Kentucky counties.

The defense is searching for an Otis Grigsby who was a standout defensive end his senior year or a Chris Demaree who kicked around in the NFL on three different teams for close to three years. They would probably settle for a Jeremy Caudill, a high school Parade All-American, who earned his scholarship in a 2002 game when he played rat-a-tat-tat on Louisville quarterback Dave Ragone's helmet and ground him in the turf. White has big shoes to filled in the Sweet Pea Burns, who is now impressing in the NFL.

The Wildcats are making a complete transition to the 4-3-defense after playing the defense in much of the second half of last season. White was moved from linebacker in the 3-4-defense to the defensive end position in the 4-3 in spring practice.

White's body is a testament to his work ethic in the weight room. He would remind you of an Adonis. He came to the 'Cats with excellent speed and has built up to a 260-pounder from a 225-pounder. So what is keeping White from becoming a dominant player? Coach Rick Petrie said he sat down with White early in the week and told him to stop thinking so much and let his talents go. White has all the physical and mental attributes to be a dominant defensive end. White has shown flashes but nothing consistent. He had the best game in his career against Tennessee when he logged nine tackles, one for a loss.

What does he need to do to become consistent? "I just need to settle down and quit trying to put so much pressure on myself," White said. "Quit trying to be uptight. I've been concentrating on to much of what's going on around me - trying to please the fans – trying to please the coaches." Does he need to cut it loose and let it go? "Pretty much," White said.

We asked White about the positioning of the Louisville game on the schedule? "It doesn't matter to me, first or last. It's a big game and either way you have to play your rival. It is good for the state of Kentucky that the Louisville game is such a big thing because it brings a lot revenue to the state as a whole."

When we want to know who is impressing on the opposite side of the ball, we ask a player who is going against them. So we asked White who impressed him on the offensive side. He said: "Fatu (Turituri) because he has good technique. He is really patient. He's got a nice punch. He needs a little work – I like the way Fatu plays.

‘Who else impresses you?'

"I like Tommy Cook just because he is older and he has been through this and he pushes us. A couple of times in the summer when I would be about to die from running, He would come over and give me some encouraging words and I would get up and start running again."

For the Cats to do some surprising things, Durrell White is going to have to step up and be a consistent playmaker.

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