Aug. 8, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- You can plug Jason White on offense, defense or special teams and it wouldn't bother him. In fact, in his first three seasons with the Hawkeyes, the junior from Davenport, Iowa, has moved from running back to defensive back and back to running back while being a stalwart on special teams.
With one carry for 14 yards in the 2010 season-opener against Eastern Illinois, White finished his sophomore year with the best yards-per-carry of any Hawkeye running back. He added six tackles on special teams.
"We know what we have from him from a special teams standpoint," said Lester Erb, UI running backs and special teams coach. "Jason is a great leader for us. He's a guy that comes to work every day and brings a great, positive attitude and he's been an invaluable member of this team."
White earned first-team all-conference honors as a junior and senior at Davenport North High School. He joined the Hawkeyes as a walk-on running back in 2008. White switched to defensive back in 2009 and back to running back in 2010. The 5-foot-10, 205-pounder is listed as second-team running back on the preseason depth chart.
"My story is pretty typical to a lot of Hawks," White said. "Guys come in and try to learn the system as quickly as they can and then try to contribute to the team as much as they can."
The Hawkeyes completed their fourth practice of preseason camp Monday. White is one of three players from Davenport, joining freshman outside linebacker Palmer Foster and senior defensive back Kyle Steinbrecher. The Quad-City area has produced a long list of Hawkeye football greats, including linebacker Pat Angerer (Colts), free safety Brett Greenwood (Steelers) and offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde (Eagles) who were all members of the 2010 UI Orange Bowl championship team and are now in NFL camps.
"That would be a great honor just to represent guys like that, who came from the area," White said. "To put my name in the same category as those guys is unfathomable to me, but it would be a great honor to represent those guys."
Running back is a position where the Hawkeyes need depth. Only Insight Bowl MVP Marcus Coker and White are returning letterwinners. Other players competing for playing time are redshirt freshmen Marcus Binns and De'Andre Johnson and true freshmen Damon Bullock, Jordan Canzeri and Mika'il McCall.
"Jason is running at the tailback position and we'll have to see how things shake out during camp," Erb said. "One thing I know is that he is going to play an important part with this team."
The Hawkeyes return to the Kenyon Football Practice Facility on Tuesday afternoon.