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White ready for his chance

NATCHEZ — Semmes White spent two years watching his older brother rake in accolades as one of the top defenders in Division III college football.

But now it is the younger brother’s turn to step up and shine for the Millsaps College defense next season.

Semmes spent his freshman and sophomore seasons playing mostly on special teams and getting backup duty as a safety, but next season he will have the opportunity to step in and start at strong safety — something he has not done since his days at Cathedral School.

“Next year I should be the starting guy,” Semmes said. “The guy ahead of me graduated, and it’s really exciting. I haven’t started a game since my senior year of high school, and I miss that feeling.”

Semmes brother JEB led the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference in tackles his junior season and was a pre-season All-American coming into his senior season this year. Semmes saw limited playing time on defense those two years, but did manage to make 16 tackles as a backup and on special teams, he said.

Semmes said he learned a lot from watching his brother and really enjoyed the times they were able to share the field.

“It was cool to play together sometimes when we were both in the game, especially when you do something good and you are there to congratulate each other,” he said. “I’m going to miss that.”

“We’re definitely going to miss him the most on the defense.”

Semmes’ role on special teams gave him valuable playing experience but also allowed him to get more repetitions at safety to prepare for his starting role next season, he said.

“Playing special teams allowed me to travel around with the starters and practice with the first string,” he said. “We learned from each other at practice, and that made me a better football player than I’ve ever been before.”

Semmes knows that his role as a leader is going to change next season when he steps up as a junior leader.

“I will just have to go to practice every day and bring intensity and work hard to be a leader for the younger freshmen,” he said.

Millsaps finished 7-3 in 2012, and Semmes hopes to improve upon that solid mark next season, he said.