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Miami's reluctant leader

The players will tell you the Miami Hurricanes have no stars on their defensive line now that All-America end Rusty Medearis is sidelined because of a severe knee injury.

The game films show otherwise. With attention no longer focused on Medearis, people are noticing Darren Krein.

He didn't seek out the spotlight; it just sort of found him _ like John Sacca's pass in Miami's 17-14 win at Penn State on Saturday. The ball landed in Krein's hands, and he lumbered in for a touchdown before he could think about it.

"That was a one-in-a-thousand play," said the junior defensive end. "It's something linemen dream about."

Krein probably wasn't one of those linemen, though. His college career has followed an unusual and unplanned pattern.

Krein has been a reluctant Hurricane, a reluctant defensive end, and now he's a reluctant star.

He was one of the prizes in Jimmy Johnson's last recruiting class in 1989. When Johnson left, Krein felt so betrayed he threatened to sue if he wasn't released from his letter of intent.

The association that oversees recruiting commitments denied his request, so Krein relented.

"I felt lied to (by Johnson), so I felt that it was only fair I be given a chance to make my choice again," said Krein. "It was just a matter of standing up for my principles. I might have still come here; I had nothing against the new coaches. I just had to do what I felt was right.

"I'm glad I did it, and I'm glad it worked out this way. It's made me stronger."

When Krein arrived, his next obstacle was more formidable. He was a high school All-American at linebacker, but the Hurricanes were two-deep with candidates.

Coaches advised Krein that he had the skills to be an end in the mold of Danny Stubbs, Greg Mark and Medearis. But Krein resisted.

"I wanted to play linebacker; I came to play linebacker," said Krein. "And if the coaches said they were moving me to end, I probably would have said I'm leaving."

Krein waited and watched Micheal Barrow become a fixture and All-America candidate at middle linebacker.

After a two-year wait, Krein acquiesced and asked the coaches to make him an end.

"Micheal's one of the best there is; he's a great player. I didn't have much chance of taking the job from him," Krein said. "And I wanted to play. So I asked to move."

Krein quickly moved into the Hurricanes' three-man rotation at end. His 5{ sacks were second on the team last year.

Krein has been a terror this year, visiting opposing backfields on almost every play. He's made sacks in Miami's past three games. His 12 tackles against Florida State were second to Barrow's 15, and Miami's defense is designed to funnel plays to Barrow.

"Darren's played great football," said Erickson. "Both he and (right end) Kevin Patrick have been great. The thing about him that really impresses you is his tenacity. He never quits; he's constantly chasing the football."

Krein, although not double-teamed as much, outplayed Medearis before the injury. Still, Medearis was the star.

"When we lost Rusty, we lost our leader," said Krein. "Without him, we don't have any stars. We've got to come up with the big plays as a group now. Each play, we go into the huddle with every player thinking they've got to make a big play. And somebody does make the big play."

More often than not, that someone is Krein.