BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Exploding into the backfield, nabbing a tackle for loss. For your average four-star recruit, this may seem like business as usual. But considering what Biloxi linebacker Donte Starks experienced these last few years?
"Yeah, it's been a struggle," Starks said.
After posting 81 tackles as a St. Martin freshman in 2015, the New Orleans native transferred to John Ehret to be closer to home for his sophomore season. However, those plans hit a speed bump when the the Patriots unexpectedly fired head coach Corey Lambert.
Returning to the Coast for his junior year, Starks sat out the first two games of 2017 before finally suiting up for the Biloxi Indians.
"It built up my character a lot," Starks said. Staying focused, learning that everything will get better. Keeping confident that everything would be good."
Considering how long he sat on the sidelines, it took a few games for Starks to get back to full speed.
"He was just out of shape period," Biloxi head coach Bobby Hall said. "He hadn't really been doing a lot. He had not been playing football and not doing the things you have to do regardless of how talented you are."
But with three games under his belt, the junior is re-discovering his groove. Averaging 11 tackles per game, he's starting to live up to his billing as the 247 Sports top-rated Inside Linebacker prospect in the country for 2019.
"Man, it was bad," Starks said of getting back into game shape. "But once I got to practicing, my stamina and all that, it started going good."
"He's just a a great player, man," Hall said. "He weighs 220 pounds, he's 6'3" and he can fly. He's real physical, he's a really good high school football player."
Already holding collegiate offers from 17 different schools, Starks knows the nation is watching. However, considering everything he already went through, the Biloxi standout is not letting anything affect his game.
"Just staying humble, act like it's not even there," Starks said of his approach. "Just keep playing."
A Louisiana native, Starks said he grew up dreaming of playing for LSU. However, with so many schools now offering for his services, he said he will explore all of his options, and that no particular school is in the lead for his commitment.