Alabama wide receiver DeAndrew White comes down with one of his seven catches in the Crimson Tide’s first spring scrimmage of 2013. (Photo courtesy of UA Athletics)
The Montgomery Advertiser’s Duane Rankin contributed the following piece on DeAndrew White’s comeback from an ACL tear that ended his 2012 season. White’s comeback seems to be going well, after a phenomenal performance in the Tide’s first spring scrimmage.
TUSCALOOSA — Alabama junior tight end Brian Vogler has seen what everyone else saw Saturday.
DeAndrew White looks like he’s on his way back.
After missing the final nine games of the 2012 season with a knee injury, White caught two touchdowns in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“It felt good to play in (Bryant-Denny Stadium) again,” said White, who had eight catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns in five games last season before tearing the ACL in his right knee while blocking Sept. 29 against Ole Miss.
“I had that anxiety. Once I played in the stadium, I didn’t feel (the injury). I can say it’s getting there.”
Days before Saturday’s scrimmage, Vogler marveled at how fast the 6-foot, 190-pound junior receiver from Houston returned from injury.
“He was running in season,” Vogler said April 1. “He looks like the DeAndrew from last year at the beginning of the season.”
On Saturday, White had seven catches for 132 yards and two scores, all scrimmage highs, from senior quarterback AJ McCarron, who threw for 291 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.
Sophomore Amari Cooper, who replaced White when he went down last season, caught five passes for 120 yards and a touchdown in the scrimmage.
“DeAndrew White is doing really well,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban following Saturday’s scrimmage. “He did a really good job, made some big plays.”
White has been wearing a brace during spring ball, but still shined in the scrimmage.
“It was great,” said Tide junior left guard Arie Kouandjio, who has overcome his share of knee injuries at Alabama. “I love to see that.”
As good as those two touchdown grabs felt for White, he was thrilled with all of his receptions Saturday.
“Every catch I get is another opportunity to show what I have,” White said.”
In practice, White has been wearing a black jersey, which is to alert teammates not to hit him, but he still wound up getting reacquainted with the grass in the scrimmage.
“I got tackled, but I didn’t get hit,” White said. “It wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.”
“It was a relief I didn’t get hurt when I got tackled,” White continued. “It kind of hurt, but I walked it off and it was alright.”
White said he stopped running on catches when either he or the referee felt as if he was tackled. He said the referee blows the whistle only if the defensive player is in position to make the tackle.
“Most of my catches were either long and I kept running or in the end zone,” White said. “But a couple of catches? I had a post that I got tackled on and I had a slant.”
Physical contact may prove to be a good thing for White.
“I think psychologically all these guys still have to sort of get over the fact that ‘I was hurt,’ ” Saban said after the scrimmage. “I think that just takes a lot of repetitions. We haven’t hit some of those guys so far. As we practice and they get hit, they’ll say, ‘Oh, I didn’t get hurt again.’ ”
White is one of three receivers recovering from injuries.
Senior Kenny Bell broke his left leg against Auburn last season and freshman Chris Black ended up redshirting in 2012 after hurting his shoulder in the preseason.
“It’s a little bit of a work in progress for them psychologically, to get the confidence they need that they’re really not hurt,” Saban said. “But they’ve done a really good job, all those guys.”
White said his only other injury came in high school when he sprained his MCL. He couldn’t remember which knee he hurt back then.
As for this ACL knee injury, White sounds as if he’s mentally getting over it.
“I just can’t be scared to do certain things on my knee,” White said. “Psychologically, that’s how most people are. They’re scared to do stuff on their knee. Scared to cut a certain way or jump a certain way. I just play off instincts and psychologically, I’m doing real good.”