September 1, 2010

White excited, slightly nervous for opener

MADISON - James White has yet to see a carry, receive a catch, or return a punt in his collegiate career but still continues to be one of the hottest topics to come out of Wisconsin's fall camp over the past number of years.

Though nobody has seen him in a game at the collegiate level, his play during practice has been the lightning rod that spearheads a discussion of impact freshman entering the 2010 season. In just a few short days, all the talk of what White has been doing in practice will translate over to the visual enjoyment of Badger fans on the field.

Enough reading about the true freshman running back and special teams impact player, it's time to show everybody what the hype is about.

Following Tuesday's practice, White was made available to reporters. And judging by the throng of people around him, the intriguing freshman drew attention only rivaled by quarterback Scott Tolzien.

The following is a transcript of that interview:

Does Bret Bielema call you giggles?

White: (Giggling) He's called me that a couple times. A couple of people have called me that before. When I was little I got called smiles more than giggles.

How did your training at St. Thomas Aquinas help you make this transition?

White: Oh it was great. We had a great strength and conditioning coach. He goes to all the conventions and everything and learns from coaches probably like coach Ben Herbert and brings it to us. We do a lot of similar things, probably not to the same intensity, but higher reps and stuff like that. We did a lot of similar things at St. Thomas.

Do you go to a school like that thinking you're going to earn a scholarship to a division one program? Is that in the back of your mind?

White: Yeah, when you go there that's what you're expecting. But you still have to work hard and just go out there and play hard everyday. You're competing against the best players in practice each day so it makes you a lot better.

As far as fall camp goes, your first time around in a college program, was it what you expected and how did you come out of it?

White: Yeah, it was what I expected. It was hard at first but after a while you get used to it and get adjusted. You just have to stay in the right mindset because you're going to be here from 7 o'clock in the morning to 10 o'clock at night. You can't be thinking, 'Oh, I need to hurry up and get home.' You just need to be zoned into football 24/7.

Coach John Settle said your pass protection is more advanced than most incoming freshmen. Do you take pride in that knowing not only can you run but that you can be out there every down?

White: Yes, that's something that you have to do when you're out in college football. You can't just be a runner. You have to know pass protection, what people you have to pick up on certain protections and things like that. I just try going through them and learn from Montee Ball, John Clay and coach Settle. They teach me whenever I make a mistake. As soon as I get to the sideline they give me some tips I can look for and I've used that to my advantage.

Do you think your size is an advantage, too, behind these giant offensive linemen? Do you think you can hide?

White: It helps a little bit because they're a lot taller than I am. Maybe a linebacker won't see me as I'm moving through the hole and maybe my speed will help me get through there without them seeing me. It helps out a little bit.

Did your legs bounce back after camp? I'm sure you got some camp legs after a while there.

White: Yeah, I think we all did. It was a hard three weeks but it was worth it. My legs are back under me getting ready for UNLV.

Will there be any nerves?

White: Yeah (laughing). There will be a little bit of nerves until my first play or something like that. That's usually when all my nerves go away.

With your first play as a potential kick returner, how does that feel having the first ball in your hands coming in as a freshman?

White: It would be crazy but I'd have to go out there and do my job and do what I've been doing in practice and just bring it to the game.

How excited are you to finally have this game come around?

White: It's going to be real fun. My parents are traveling out there to watch our game. So they'll be watching me and I know all my friends and coaches back at home will be watching. I don't want to disappoint them.

What sold you on this program?

White: Just a great coaching staff. They're all down to earth and they weren't being fake or anything during the recruiting process. They're still the same people now as they were back then. I just felt at home when I came here. It was just a home away from home. I'm from Florida and that's very far away. If I was going out of state I wanted to be going somewhere where I felt comfortable.

Did the Florida influence on this roster help you as far as having somebody to ask questions?

White: Yeah, it helped a little bit. We have two kids from my school in Dezmen Southward and Conor O'Neill. I talked to them and they loved it up here. When I came up for my visit I felt the same way. It's been great here.

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