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Whitworth back to the beginning

L.V. Whitworth says it is going to be difficult to overcome his sense of deja vu when Boston College opens its 2006 football season ..... on the road (Mount Pleasant, Mich.) ..... against an unranked opponent from the Mid-American Conference (Central Michigan) ..... in a Thursday night game (6, ESPN2).

Whitworth, a 6-foot, 212-pound junior running back from Milton made his BC debut under similar circumstances two years ago: a Thursday night game at Ball State in Muncie, Ind., where, as a true freshman standout from Catholic Memorial, Whitworth had a breakout performance (21 carries, 129 yards rushing, 1 touchdown) that helped the Eagles escape with a 19-11 victory.

''Yeah,'' Whitworth said, rubbing his left knee as he sat down with reporters yesterday at Alumni Stadium's press box, ''that's where it all happened with my knee.''

Whitworth, who had entered the game for ineffective junior starter J. Survival Ross, wound up making quite a splash. Whitworth's 21st carry, however, proved eventful when he made a hard cut, hyperextended his left knee and suffered a slight tear of left medial collateral ligament and hamstring late in the second half, forcing him to miss the remainder of that game and the next three.

''The ground just gave out and I hyperextended it and tore it,'' said Whitworth, who was able to walk away under his own power. ''The next day, my knee was killing me, it was throbbing [in pain].''

Whitworth returned, though, to play the last nine games of the 2004 season, rushing for 623 yards (4.4 per carry) and a team-high five TDs on 143 carries.

Now that he's 10 pounds lighter, Whitworth says he feels healthier and quicker than ever.

''This time, I'm looking forward to it,'' he said, referring to BC's opener against Central Michigan. ''I'm feeling good right now, my knee's feeling good and I can't wait, I'm excited.''

Asked if he was back to feeling like the freshman who ran roughshod at Ball State, Whitworth said, ''Yeah, everybody and all the coaches have mentioned I'm looking a lot quicker out there. I lost about 10 pounds this offseason and am feeling a lot quicker, too. I'm feeling good. I can't wait.''

While the injury served as a negative memory, Whitworth was hoping to draw upon the more positive aspects of his debut two years ago in BC's opener ..... on the road ..... against a Mid-American Conference opponent ..... in a Thursday night game.

''Yeah, I'm trying to get back to that, up until I got hurt,'' said Whitworth, who last season ran for 807 yards on 189 carries (4.3 average) and five TDs, combining with BC stablemate Andre Callender for 1,515 rushing yards. ''I mean, I had a great camp and everything was clicking and the injury kind of set me back two years. Now I feel like I'm ready to go.''

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