On most college football teams, a player like USC running back LenDale White would be the talk of the town. But during his three years with the Trojans, White has gone about his business with much of the media attention focused on Heisman Trophy winners Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart.
With the departure of Bush and Leinart following the 2005 season, White finally had his chance to take the reins of the Trojans squad and seize the spotlight, perhaps even the Heisman trophy. But that’s not White’s style. Instead, he opted to enter the NFL draft following his junior year, leaving USC behind.
“It was time, the Heisman wasn’t enough to keep me in college. I don’t need a Heisman or an All-American award. I can live out a dream; this is something I’ve dreamed about my whole life,” White said.
At 6’1, 238 pounds, White is a force to be reckoned with and is drawing pre-draft comparisons to NFL power backs such as Jerome Bettis, Stephen Davis and Duce Staley.
White knows how to protect the football while running. And he never missed a college game, a testament to his durability considering his bruising running style. But don’t get caught calling him a power back.
“I don’t really see myself like that. I see myself as somebody who can move pretty good, like a Reggie type running back. They say I’m a bulldozer type running back, so I accept it. I just try to make people miss and do what I can to help my team win, that’s the main thing. I don’t know if I have one style. When it’s all said and done, I’m not running out of bounds, I’ll put my shoulder down and see what I can do from there,” he said.
In 2005, White averaged an unfathomable 6.6 yards per carry, scored an NCAA Division I best 26 touchdowns and 963 of his 1,302 yards after contact. Incredible numbers considering he split carries with Bush – literally, Bush had 200 carries while White had 197.
White is a projected first round pick in the 2006 NFL draft and could potentially be the second running back chosen behind Reggie Bush. When it comes to the draft, White is ecstatic about the opportunity to play in the NFL regardless of where he’s drafted.
“I think the ideal situation is to go to a team that’s going to win. I would love to go top 15, but I’m honored to be in this situation. I’m blessed, I get to do something that a lot of people would love to do so I think wherever I go in the draft I will appreciate it,” White said.
LenDale White can’t wait to receive his first NFL paycheck, but not because he’s anxious to purchase luxurious cars or multi-million dollar houses. He relishes the opportunity to finally be able to assist his family, who could use his help.
“In my house there are stairs that my grandmother can’t walk up and down. I wish I could make a ramp or buy a house with no stairs. I want to get the proper equipment to help her get around. She’s on Medicaid and they don’t take care of everything and we can’t afford everything. It’s time to help my mother, buy her groceries and pay her bills. My sister was in a fire accident when I was nine years old and she almost lost her life. There’s more than $100,000 in hospital bills from that accident we still have to pay,” he said.
Being a rookie on an NFL team, White will likely have to continue to share the spotlight with his new teammates. However, he wouldn’t mind at least having the running back position to himself this time around.
“I think I’m capable of learning offenses real fast. If I’m given the opportunity to start right off the bat, I’ll do everything in my power to keep that position. If I have to split time I’ll do that too, I think I could learn in both situations. For me though, the ideal situation is to be a full time starter,” White said.
USC’s Pro Day was April 2, but White was very limited in his activity due to a sore hamstring. USC is planning a second Pro Day in mid-April at which time White should be able to participate in more drills.
ColtPower Insiders can read our exclusive Q&A feature with Lendale White at ColtPower.com. LenDale talks about meeting Tony Dungy at the Combine, how he'd fit in with the Colts, and why one teammate referred to him as "the law".