Oct. 4, 2006
SEATTLE (AP) -- Scott White's degree was complete, his patience near an end.
Frustrated by two years of unprecedented losses never seen at Washington, exhausted by three coaching changes in his career and confused about his role for the 2006 season, White walked away from football during preseason camp in August. It was only one day, but White had to determine whether his happiness lay on the football field.
He returned, and has been a significant contributor in Washington's surprising 4-1 start. The Huskies face a serious test on Saturday at No. 3 Southern California.
"I needed some time to clear my head. I felt the pressure -- my senior year, a lot of expectations were on me," White said about his decision. "I just wanted to be sure and kind of refocus myself."
White's focus hasn't been a question during Washington's surprising first month. He was named the Pac-10 Conference defensive player of the week after recording 10 tackles and two sacks last Saturday against Arizona, while playing with a sprained shoulder.
His name is found near the top of the Pac-10 leaders in sacks, tackles for loss and total tackles -- where White ranks second with 41, behind only teammate C.J. Wallace.
That's impressive, considering that when White walked away in August, he'd lost his starting position at strongside outside linebacker. He was disenchanted with football, and the idea of returning home to San Diego didn't sound that bad.
While he'd finished his course work for a degree in American ethnic studies, he still had a year of football eligibility left since he had a redshirt year.
"It was never about me playing. It was more about me figuring out if this is what I wanted to do," White said. "I didn't want to be a guy that was a distraction in the locker room. I didn't want to be the guy being negative. I just had to get my life together."
This wasn't the first time a player under coach Tyrone Willingham has needed time to sort out personal issues. Although the timing wasn't ideal, Willingham had gained enough knowledge during his first season of coaching White to give his player space.
"Every situation is different, every player is different," the coach said. "The dynamics that go into it and come out of it are different. So you handle each one as its own individual case.
"I felt like he wanted to come back and that he wanted to be a responsible leader on our football team."
White's closest friend on the team is offensive guard Stanley Daniels. The pair went to elementary school together, and later played against each other in high school.
Daniels was one of the few that White confided in.
"I told him that he needed to be honest with himself and be true to himself, not do anything for anybody else and do what is best for him," Daniels said. "That's what it comes down to."
White recommitted himself to football once he returned to camp. He was moved to the weakside position, where he proceeded to beat out Chris Stevens for the starting spot.
The Huskies have benefited from the move. Playing on the weakside allows White more freedom and opportunity, and he's recorded 10 or more tackles three times already.
More important, Washington's four wins are more than the last two seasons combined and White is enjoying the success.
"I'm happiest around my teammates, I'm happiest preparing for games and happiest out on the football field competing," White said. "I've been here forever, I've played in a lot of games and I'm just trying to provide what we need to win."