White, a redshirt freshman quarterback, scored 46 touchdowns and gained 3,393 yards at Daphne High School in Daphne, Ala., and was coveted by Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Tennessee, among others. He finished third in Alabama’s Mr. Football voting and at one point committed to the Tigers.
“With Pat, it was a (recruiting) battle all the way,” said Rodriguez, the Mountaineers heads coach. “The day he committed to LSU, he called us that night and said he thought he made a mistake. We assured him that he hadn’t because he hadn’t signed anywhere yet.”
LSU, like the rest of the Southern schools recruiting White, didn’t want him to play quarterback. He was going to line up as a wide receiver for the Tigers. The lure of playing quarterback, which he was promised at West Virginia, eventually convinced White to change his mind on national signing day and pick the Mountaineers.
“In the South, nobody wanted to give me a shot at quarterback and West Virginia did,” he said. “(The Southern schools) talked a little about giving me a shot at quarterback or whatever, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen.”
Rodriguez’ job wasn’t done, though. Five months after White signed with West Virginia, he was drafted by the Anaheim Angels in the fourth round of the Major League Baseball draft.
“Those baseball folks have a lot of money, and it’s hard to compete with that,” Rodriguez said, “but he’s got a good head on his shoulders, and he’s got a great family that was able to weigh all the pros and cons.” White not only turned his back on the Angels but on baseball altogether. He has never broached the subject of collegiate baseball with Rodriguez.
“The last time I even saw a baseball I guess was in the summer maybe,” White said. “I guess the reason for me choosing football is it’s just a more exciting sport. Do I miss baseball? Not now. I’m enjoying my season.”
White has led the Mountaineers to a 10-1 record and a No. 11 national ranking while rushing for more yards in a season than all but one Big East quarterback in history. He has 708 passing yards while completing 54 of 100 attempts and 875 rushing yards on 107 carries.
“He’s special, he really is,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “It looks like they really have taken off with a great boost of confidence on both sides of the ball and a lot of it has to do with the quarterback.”
White started the season as a regular fill-in for sophomore Adam Bednarik, and, by the time Bednarik was lost for the season due to a foot sprain suffered in the Oct. 15 Louisville game, White already was getting half the team’s snaps. As the full-time quarterback, White has led his team to four straight wins and averaged 142.8 yards per game in the last four outings.
As the statistics would suggest, White is more runner than thrower.
“Pat White, he’s a speed demon,” running back Steve Slaton said. “He’s fast, he’s strong and he doesn’t care who he needs to hit.”
White is most dangerous running the ball out of the Mountaineers’ spread offense option. West Virginia’s opponents have scouted the offense well but still haven’t been able to stop White, Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said.
“They’ve got guys in the right places, and he’s just making them miss,” Martinez said. “That’s when you start worrying.”
Dan Mozes, West Virginia’s second-team All-America center, said White has helped loosen up the offense with his carefree attitude, but White is hesitant to accept too much credit.
“One person can’t get the job done,” he said. “You have to play as 11.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback
6-foot-2, 190 pounds
Opponent Carries Yards
Syracuse 6 20
Wofford 11 107
Maryland 9 62
East Carolina 3 5
Virginia Tech 11 44
Rutgers 2 minus-3
Louisville 11 69
Connecticut 12 63
Cincinnati 8 111
Pittsburgh 23 220
South Florida 11 177