White wants to be defined by success in 2014

A year ago, Kevin White got to West Virginia with the intentions of becoming the Mountaineers’ go-to threat and one of the best receivers in the Big 12 Conference.

He certainly looked the part - a 6-foot-3, 210-pound wide receiver with the ability to make a big play any time the ball goes his way.

When he transferred to West Virginia from Lackawanna College, White was expected to do a lot, both from people on the outside and from himself, as the Mountaineers tried to replace high-profile pass catchers like Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. But he was never able to live up to that potential during his first year.

Small injuries, trouble catching passes and not truly knowing or feeling comfortable with his role on the team led to one of the least consistent seasons in White's career. The then-junior from Plainfield, N.J., only caught 35 passes for 507 yards and five scores and never was able to get on track and show who he really was as a player. And he could tell in the way the team played as West Virginia slid toward the bottom of the Big 12 with a 4-8 record.

"That was the worst I've ever felt playing football," he said. "I knew we were talented, we just weren't showing it out there. It just felt like things never went our way."

With another year under his belt, White was able to enter the 2014 season with a sense of calm and was much more comfortable with his abilities and understands that this is his final chance to make an impact.

Last season, he didn't have any experience at the FBS level - and that unfamiliarity with the level of play as well as being new at WVU prevented him to reaching that level he needed to be at. He and Mario Alford failed to reach those expectations set for themselves.

"I'm not saying we didn't want to be leaders or didn't want guys to look to us, but we weren't sure of what we were supposed to do," White said. "It's hard to lead when you don't really know what you're doing and you aren't totally comfortable or you don't know what your role is.

"Now we all know what we have to do and where we fit in and we have better leaders on this team because of it."

That's why last week's season opener against Alabama was such a relief for White. His senior campaign started with a bang, going for career highs in both catches and receiving yards, finishing the game with nine grabs for 143 yards and a touchdown.

The success he has had up to this point early in the season comes from knowing this is his final chance. If he wants to accomplish his goals, he has to do it this year or he likely never will.

"Football is the thing that is going to allow me to live out my dreams. Playing football has always been the thing I've loved and I've always wanted to get to the NFL. Now I have that chance," he said. "It just makes you go 10 times harder. Also, I know my family is looking at me and they want to see me get it done too. The money and all that would be nice, but it's not even about that. I want to get to the league because I love this game."

That has brought about a new sense of hunger from White. It's not the first time people have considered him to be down and out.

Much of the same happened during his days at Lackawanna when he was trying to make a name for himself so he could move on to be at an FBS school like he is now at West Virginia. And after last year's failures, he doesn't want it to happen again.

"If I would have come to a school like West Virginia straight out of high school, I wouldn't have lasted. I would have been a lot more arrogant," White said. "I wouldn't have known what it feels like to fail and I wouldn't know how to handle it when I did fail - because we all do at some point and we're all going to be judged on how we bounce back from our failures.

"I never wanted to go to a junior college, I don't know how many people would say that's a goal, but it was good for me because it gave me the hunger and the drive to make it that I have now."


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