After the posting of "The Kevin Willhite Era" earlier this week, I was able to contact Kevin, and he graciously agreed to answer some questions via email. (He said he had read the article.)
Describe your injury; does it still bother you? "[In high school] I ran a 10.4 100, 20.4 200... I tore my bicep femoris. Not just pulled. The muscle looks like a big ball. I was on crutches for months. There was no microsurgery in those days. It took a long time to heal, [and] healed with scar tissue. You don't re-grow muscle fiber... The hamstring is still torn, held together by scar tissue.
"I did put on weight by not running for over a year. It was a hard process... After I lost most of my speed, I chose to contribute in other ways, like blocking for two great running backs [Tony Cherry, Derek Loville] and a great quarterback, Chris Miller."
Why the late switch to Oregon? "I went to the U of O because of the track program. What I didn't expect, or failed to look at, was the record of the team. I didn't know [Oregon] was on probation."
Did you have conflicts with some teammates? "Yes, some did resent the attention I received. It's not my fault they were insecure.. Was I supposed to say 'stop talking to me'? People are hurt they don't get the same attention."
What are you doing now? "I am a supervisor with International Paper, in Elk Grove, California. I have four kids, two boys and two girls. Wife of 20 years. I am happy."
Do you think the coverage you received was fair? Most of my times in track are still in place after 30 years. I did not get to fulfill my dreams, due to injury, like thousands of athletes. It doesn't say we didn't try. It's how I fought back to graduate. My freshman class was around 30 recruits. 3 athletes graduated from that class...
"Yes, I am happy. I can't relive the past. I can only live in the future. You can characterize me as this over-hype, over-rated athlete. I had a career ending injury early in my career. The people who followed me, and seen me play or run, know what they seen."
Kevin Willhite (via facebook.com)