The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

March 15, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: White in hopes of comeback

MORGANTOWN — The quarterback stood at the podium in the team room at Milan Puskar Stadium on Thursday afternoon, his Pro Day workout completed. He was no longer a Mountaineer, but the records he had set seemingly safe for at least another generation in the school’s record book.

He talked about his love for the game and how he wanted to make his mark on it at the professional level, about how much he was willing to sacrifice to fulfill his dreams.

And then Pat White talked about what an awful mistake he had made to walk away from the game.

This, of course, was supposed to be a day to celebrate the skills of today’s quarterback, Geno Smith, who is in line to be the first quarterback chosen in April’s NFL draft, and he had done nothing do disappoint anyone in his performance before coaches, general managers and scouts from 29 of the 32 NFL teams.

But it was White, who worked out with former WVU players in a closed session whose words were the most compelling as he explained what drove him from the game, how difficult it was to be away, what pushed him back toward it and how his dog, Chief Charmalot, played a key role in it all.

White has dubbed his comeback attempt “Operation Relaunch,” and in many ways he is doing it because he was incomplete without football, something he plans to remedy.

“I am just following my heart,” he said. “I tried to run from myself, had nowhere to go and my heart brought me right back to the game of football. I’m going to do it until the day I die.”

One must go back to the days when White was running Rich Rodriguez’s offense, setting national records for running quarterbacks while completing better than 60 percent of his passes. There was much doubt, however, as he came out of WVU about his ability to be an NFL quarterback, much along the same lines as there was doubt about Tim Tebow when he came out of Florida.

Bill Parcells and the Miami Dolphins took a chance and drafted White, but it did not work out, and after suffering a concussion, he left football, off to try and find himself as a baseball player, as an actor, but really wandering aimlessly through life.

“It was probably the hardest years of my life. Thankfully I had good people around me – my family, my friends … and my dog. It kept me going,” he said.

One can understand the role family and friends would play.

But his dog?

“He kept me active. Without him I’d probably be sitting in front of a computer screen for 18 hours a day. With him I had to get out and run. He’s a Doberman. He had a lot of energy,” White explained.

And the name, Chief Charmalot.

“He goes by Charm,” White said. “The reason for the name Charm is I was in a condo. He’s a big dog, and I didn’t want people to be afraid of him. I wanted a name that was inviting and I couldn’t call him Chief, because my father is the Chief. They both will tear your head off.”

So there was White, his family, friends and Chief Charmalot keeping him going but going where?

“I couldn’t watch football for about a year and a half or two years after I left the game,” he revealed. “I knew the first time I was to turn on the TV and watch a game that the passion was still there.”

He was ready to return, although he had no idea what to expect. And those who think it came about because he saw the success of the read-option quarterback like Robert Griffin III that brought him back to the game are wrong.

“I guess a lot of people were saying I was ahead of my time. I say I wasn’t patient enough for my time,” he said. “Football is what I love. It’s what I’m going to be around until the day they put me 6 feet under.”

A call from the Edmonton Eskimos offering him a chance to come back got him revved up, but he wasn’t ready to go to the CFL. Not then. He wanted to test the NFL waters again.

“I knew it would be hard. The game of football is not much different than when you played as a 10-year-old or a 12-year-old. The guys are a lot bigger and a lot faster and a lot smarter, but it’s still the same game,” he explained.

So he went off to work out at George Whitfield’s Whitfield Academy, a training place for quarterbacks. And it was like riding a bicycle. It came back.

“Whitfield was saying I was a 195-pound quarterback throwing like I’m 215,” White said, his weight having jumped from that 195 to 205 since deciding to return.

He believes he will make it.

“That’s how you succeed in life. If you don’t believe, no one else will,” he said.

It is the most important thing in his life that he succeeds, and he’d like to do it as a quarterback.

“I’m open to be a football player, but my heart is at quarterback,” he said. “I’ll take any opportunity I get right now. I just want to get back in the game, but my heart is behind the center.”

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads