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Sunday, December 12, 2004
[ COLLEGE FOOTBALL ]
"He [Roddy White] has had an outstanding season, one of the best in the country."
Watson Brown, UAB coach
The Blazers receiver increased
BlossomingUAB receiver Roddy White's numbers have improved each season.
It's hard to imagine a 6-foot-3, 205-pound speedster (4.4 in 40 yards) like White wrestling rather than playing basketball in the winter. The thing is, his body was a much different shape when he was a teen at James Island High School in Charleston, S.C.
"I wasn't that tall when I first started out -- I was 5-5 going into my junior year," said White, who won grappling titles at 152 pounds as a junior and 189 as a senior and also played baseball. "I was a late bloomer in football, I didn't play until my junior year and I didn't go to camps and stuff like that."
Today, White is one of the nation's best college receivers. He and quarterback Darrell Hackney lead the Blazers into the program's first bowl game, Dec. 24, against Hawaii at the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. UAB arrives Saturday.
White's 65 receptions, 1,339 yards and 13 touchdowns rank him near the top of the national stats. But because he plays for UAB -- the third-most-popular college team in Birmingham, Ala., behind Alabama and Auburn -- he is a relative unknown.
He had no offers coming out of high school other than the Blazers' because few recruiters thought he would qualify academically.
"Clemson, South Carolina, NC State ... they all wanted me to go to junior college," said White, who wound up at UAB because his high school coach knew a Blazers assistant. "They didn't know I was going to pass the SAT."
They also didn't know he was going to take it eight times.
"My mom tells me once I start something to finish it," said White, who is just a few credits shy of a degree in sociology in just 3 1/2 years of school.
UAB coach Watson Brown said White polished his game this season.
"I think he realized this was his senior year, he wanted it to be something special, and he worked very hard in the offseason to get ready for it. He has had an outstanding season, one of the best in the country. All you have to do is look at his statistics and the number of big plays he has had," Brown said. "I think there are several things he is doing better this season. His routes are much better than before, I think that has made a big difference."
White has also tried to make a difference in the Birmingham community.
"Our academic center sets things up for us like reading with kids, teaching them about what it's like in college, the value of education," he said. "I like working with kids, especially at the high school level, getting kids going in the right direction. Someday I'll be a coach or a teacher."
First, he has his own pro football career to pursue. Next month he has a whole week of practice and the Jan. 29 game to impress scouts face-to-face at the Senior Bowl.
"I'm ready to prove what I can do, go against the best in the nation," White said. "I know I got my natural ability because of my parents, but I want to showcase that I've done the work to become a complete receiver."