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Georgia TE to deliver commencement address

A rare honor for a student-athlete

POSTED: December 16, 2010 8:15 p.m.

ATHENS — Aron White will have the last word on Georgia's season.

White, a tight end, was selected by the Student Government Association to speak at University of Georgia's commencement ceremony Friday at Stegeman Coliseum.

It's a rare honor.

Longtime sports information director Claude Felton said Thursday he knows of only two student-athletes to speak at commencement: Football player Tommy Lawhorne was valedictorian in 1968, and former basketball star Teresa Edwards returned to speak in 2000.

"I feel I'm very much a representative not only of the football team but of Georgia athletics," White said. "I definitely want to come out of my speech with people having a positive opinion about the athletic association and our football team."

Georgia, only 6-6 as it heads to the Liberty Bowl, had 11 players arrested this year.

White said he hopes to influence negative public opinions of the team.

"I think it's important for us to be proactive instead of reactive to some of the press that we've received, especially this year," White said. "We haven't had a good season as far as wins and losses and beyond that we've had some legal troubles and things like that.

"I think it's important for us to try to combat that and take, I guess, a more aggressive approach to what we're doing here and take it upon ourselves to just be good representatives."

White, from Columbia, Mo., said he will pursue a master's degree in sports management and wants to become an athletic director.

"He is very capable, very intelligent, very outgoing," said coach Mark Richt. "He communicates extremely well with people and I think that is a big part of that job. I think he's smart enough to get the big picture. I think with the right training, he could make an outstanding athletic director."

White started in three games this season and had 9 catches for 125 yards.

Richt said White, an honor roll student, has worked hard on the speech.

"He is taking it very, very seriously," Richt said. "He has come by and talked to me about it. ... He knows it is a tremendous honor. He just wants to do a good job. ... I know he wants to represent the student body well, and as he said, our program well. I think it is a very positive thing for us."

White said he has never delivered a speech outside of a classroom. He said it will be a bigger challenge to speak before a crowd of several thousand than to play before 92,000 at Sanford Stadium.

"Playing football is just something I've always done," he said. "It's definitely my area of comfort and I think I'm going to be out of my comfort zone on Friday."

Teammate Kris Durham said White is a good choice to deliver the speech.

"Just knowing how accomplished he is and how motivated he is, I think he'll do a great job," Durham said. "For him to go through the interviews and to go through the things that he's been through to get that opportunity, it's a great reflection of his character and his determination."

White will be one of 17 current and former football players, including former star receiver Fred Gibson, in the undergraduate ceremonies.



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