SCRANTON, Pa. – Rainy morning skies cleared by early Saturday afternoon to set the stage for a celebration of one of Lackawanna College's most celebrated student-athletes in recent history.
The College community paused during halftime at the annual Blue-White spring football game to recognize Chicago Bears wide receiver Kevin White and retire jersey No. 8 in recognition of his selection in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
White, an alum of Emmaus High School, graduated from Lackawanna in 2012 and continued his College career at West Virginia University before being drafted by the Bears. He was joined Saturday by fellow alumnus Lorenzo Taliaferro, a running back with the Baltimore Ravens, to add even more excitement to the day for local football fans.
Dozens gathered beneath the home bleachers at Valor Credit Union Field at Scranton Memorial Stadium to get autographed photographs and memorabilia from both White and Taliaferro as the Falcons took to the field. Fans wore their favorite gear representing Lackawanna College, West Virginia, Chicago, Baltimore, and even Emmaus to meet the pros with who got their start as Falcons.
"It's a really exciting opportunity for us on a lot of different levels," College President Mark Volk said during his halftime address. "There is a proud traditional of football here at Lackawanna College… We're here to recognize a group of men who have gone on to the ultimate level of this game.
"We're very proud of all of our players. Certainly, when we get men like this who have elevated their game, it says a lot about them and a lot about the program where they got their start."
In his address, Head Football Coach Mark Duda thanked the White family, including Kevin's brother's Ka'Raun and Kyzir, for enrolling and believing in the program. Kyzir White was also the last player to wear No. 8 at Lackawanna College and joined officials in presenting the commemorative white jersey to his older brother.
White told current Falcons to be sure to keep their grades as high as their aspirations. He also recalled overcoming his own doubts about his ability to succeed in Lackawanna's tenacious and demanding football program on his personal path to the NFL.
"It was a great opportunity for us to get a second chance," White said. "They changed our lives. Coach Duda, Coach (Charlie) Grande, and everyone helped us become better as men. They helped us on and off the field. If it weren't for these people in my corner, my family, and the great coaching staff that they have, I wouldn't be in the position that I am."
While an injury sidelined White for his first season with the Bears, he says he is completely healthy and ready to play for 2016. "I'm back 100%, and I'm ready to go."