How conference fans and players will take to the development remains to be seen, but Bradshaw is not worried about Northington's ability to handle himself.
"He's the best defensive back I've seen since I've been coaching at Kentucky," said Bradshaw.
Least concerned of all is Northington.
"I played against all-white teams from Vanderbilt and Tennessee last year," he pointed out, referring to his freshman play. "All the boys on both teams were sportsmen. Nobody bothered me."
CHOOSY LITTLE BIRD
Walking through a cypress swamp in Texas, an ornithologist named John Dennis came upon something that most naturalists believed no one would ever see again—a live ivory-billed woodpecker, a big red-white-and-black bird, larger than a crow, almost the size of a small domestic rooster, a bird so rarely sighted it has been considered extinct or on the edge of extinction for half a century.
The bird was on a tree only 50-odd feet away, and there was no chance of Dennis being mistaken; he is an authority on American woodpeckers. He prudently kept quiet about his discovery lest bird watchers and trophy hunters flock to the scene. Last week, eight months after he sighted the first one, he reported in Washington that he had found three pairs of ivory-billed woodpeckers and believed there were 10 to 20 surviving birds in the Big Thicket of southeast Texas.
The ivorybill is one bird whose decline cannot be blamed on man's ruthless slaughter. It ate itself out of existence. Ivorybills feed selectively, eating only the larvae of wood-boring insects. There were never very many of them, and these flew over miles of swamps and dug out lots of dead wood searching for a good meal. Mark Catesby, the pioneer naturalist who came to America from England in 1712, was astonished to see a big ivorybill pile up a bushel of chips around the base of a tree in only one hour. In modern forests there were not enough decaying hardwood trees, but, said Alexander Sprunt, "the bird would not or could not adapt itself...."
The Big Thicket is a 300,000-acre tract of swamplands, pine forest, hickory, beech, maple, sycamore and just plain brush that is now being considered as a national park ( Dennis was working under an Interior Department contract when he found the ivorybills), and it contains enough dead wood to provide food for even these choosy fowl.
Or it may be that the last surviving ivorybills have decided to do something, rather than just sit around and wait for better times and more decayed trees. Ornithologist Dennis found ivory-billed woodpeckers feeding on insects in pine slashings—which may mean a revolutionary change in eating habits, and adjustment to a changed environment to keep their colorful kind alive.