The Other White Does The Dirty Work For Trojans
Jan. 2, 2005
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - Think of LenDale White as the other White atthis Orange Bowl.
The Southern California tailback is way overshadowed by Oklahoma quarterbackand former Heisman Trophy winner Jason White.
And despite leading the Trojans in rushing, he's best known for doing muchof dirty work while teammates Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush receive thenotoriety.
Which is fine by White.
'It never bugs me,' he said. 'We're a team. You've got to accept that oryou're not a team player. The publicity is going to come. I'm just happy to behere. For me to complain would be real selfish.
'Reggie's my guy. All the publicity he gets, he and Matt, you would expectthem to be different guys and they're not. Sometimes guys let publicity go totheir heads. They don't.'
Leinart won the Heisman Trophy this season and Bush finished fifth in thevoting. White earned the respect of the Trojans.
'If our team is a court, than he's the gavel,' USC tackle John Drake said.
Opponents see him the same way.
'We know all about LenDale White,' Oklahoma defensive lineman LynnMcGruder said. 'He's not one of the guys who gets talked about very much. Buthe's one of the best players they have.'
White, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound sophomore, finished his prep days as Colorado'scareer rushing leader with 7,803 yards.
White and Bush are known as 'Thunder and Lightning.' But Bush said theirroles and interchangeable.
'He's known for his power running. He has speed, too,' Bush said.'LenDale is a major part of our offense. His style of running opens thingsup.'
White's status for Tuesday night's Orange Bowl against No. 2 Oklahoma hasbeen in question because of the sprained right ankle he sustained Dec. 4 in No.1 USC's 29-24 victory over UCLA.
White has made significant improvement since last Thursday night. Hebelieves USC coach Pete Carroll's wife, Glena, played a role.
'Mrs. Carroll did her thing. It's crazy,' White said. 'Everyone was atthe hotel standing around, she came up to me and asked how my ankle was. Sheperformed a short prayer for my ankle. She had her hands in the vicinity of myinjury. The next morning I woke up and it felt great.
'A miracle,' he said.
Carroll seemed pessimistic about White's status after practice Thursday. Hewas much more optimistic the following day - after his wife's prayer.
'I'm ready to play,' White said Sunday. 'It feels good. I'm going to behurting, but I'll fight through it. It's the national championship game.
'I can judge myself off the first hit. If it doesn't feel right, I'll tellthe coach. I don't want to hurt the team.'
Leinart is aware of White's importance.
'What's got us here is LenDale White,' Leinart said. 'He's one of thebest backs in the country. LenDale is just a tough back. He's big, he's fast,he wears on the defense.'
White has 26 rushing touchdowns in 25 career games and 29 touchdowns overall- second only to Mike Williams' 30 TDs for most by a USC player by the end ofhis sophomore year.
'If there's not a hole, LenDale will make one,' Trojans tackle KyleWilliams said.