Refocused White Helping Lead Washington's Turnaround
Oct. 4, 2006
SEATTLE (AP) -- Scott White's degree was complete, his patiencenear an end.
Frustrated by two years of unprecedented losses never seen atWashington, exhausted by three coaching changes in his career andconfused about his role for the 2006 season, White walked away fromfootball during preseason camp in August. It was only one day, butWhite had to determine whether his happiness lay on the footballfield.
He returned, and has been a significant contributor inWashington's surprising 4-1 start. The Huskies face a serious teston Saturday at No. 3 Southern California.
'I needed some time to clear my head. I felt the pressure -- mysenior year, a lot of expectations were on me,' White said abouthis decision. 'I just wanted to be sure and kind of refocusmyself.'
White's focus hasn't been a question during Washington'ssurprising first month. He was named the Pac-10 Conferencedefensive player of the week after recording 10 tackles and twosacks last Saturday against Arizona, while playing with a sprainedshoulder.
His name is found near the top of the Pac-10 leaders in sacks,tackles for loss and total tackles -- where White ranks second with41, behind only teammate C.J. Wallace.
That's impressive, considering that when White walked away inAugust, he'd lost his starting position at strongside outsidelinebacker. He was disenchanted with football, and the idea ofreturning home to San Diego didn't sound that bad.
While he'd finished his course work for a degree in Americanethnic studies, he still had a year of football eligibility leftsince he had a redshirt year.
'It was never about me playing. It was more about me figuringout if this is what I wanted to do,' White said. 'I didn't wantto be a guy that was a distraction in the locker room. I didn'twant to be the guy being negative. I just had to get my lifetogether.'
This wasn't the first time a player under coach TyroneWillingham has needed time to sort out personal issues. Althoughthe timing wasn't ideal, Willingham had gained enough knowledgeduring his first season of coaching White to give his player space.
'Every situation is different, every player is different,' thecoach said. 'The dynamics that go into it and come out of it aredifferent. So you handle each one as its own individual case.
'I felt like he wanted to come back and that he wanted to be aresponsible leader on our football team.'
White's closest friend on the team is offensive guard StanleyDaniels. The pair went to elementary school together, and laterplayed against each other in high school.
Daniels was one of the few that White confided in.
'I told him that he needed to be honest with himself and betrue to himself, not do anything for anybody else and do what isbest for him,' Daniels said. 'That's what it comes down to.'
White recommitted himself to football once he returned to camp.He was moved to the weakside position, where he proceeded to beatout Chris Stevens for the starting spot.
The Huskies have benefited from the move. Playing on theweakside allows White more freedom and opportunity, and he'srecorded 10 or more tackles three times already.
More important, Washington's four wins are more than the lasttwo seasons combined and White is enjoying the success.
'I'm happiest around my teammates, I'm happiest preparing forgames and happiest out on the football field competing,' Whitesaid. 'I've been here forever, I've played in a lot of games andI'm just trying to provide what we need to win.'