Former Kennett quarterback bowl-bound as BC lineman
Ian White ran the option as starting quarterback for Kennett High School of Conway in the first two years of his varsity career. That might not strike you as unusual ... unless you know that White is now a 6-foot, 5-inch, 310-pound offensive lineman at Boston College.
"We ran a little bit of everything back then, but I wasn't very good," White recalled. "I was a great seven-on-seven quarterback. I could throw the ball, but I wasn't the most mobile kid out there."
A senior, White has been a starter since his sophomore season at BC after coming off the bench and playing in all 13 games as a redshirt freshman. This season, he's helped pave the way for running back Andre Williams, who leads the nation in rushing yards (2,102) and rushing yards per game (175.2).
Williams is expected to be among the top vote-getters for this year's Heisman Trophy. The winner will be announced on Saturday.
"He's a freak," White said of Williams. "He's a power back with breakaway speed. It's extremely rewarding when you make a good block and then watch him run over someone. We've said all along that his numbers are our numbers. I knew he was going to have a good year, but I couldn't have predicted 2,000 yards. If he's going to New York for the Heisman (presentation), the offensive line will find a way to get there."
After playing tight end and defensive end during his junior and senior seasons at Kennett, White has played center, guard and tackle during his collegiate career. He moved from right guard to right tackle before the current season, during which he's also served as a team co-captain.
White's talent and versatility have been invaluable to BC offensive line coach Justin Frye.
"Our philosophy is to put the best five guys on the field," Frye said. "If the starting right guard goes down, that doesn't mean the No. 2 right guard is going in. It might be a backup tackle.
"Ian is a smart guy who can digest the offense. He has good knowledge of how we're going where we're going. Moving him to tackle allowed us to get the best five guys out there."
White called BC's 38-21 triumph over North Carolina State this season the highlight of his college career. Williams set BC's single-game rushing record by gaining 339 yards in the victory, which made the Eagles bowl-eligible in Steve Addazio's first season as BC's head coach.
The Eagles finished 2-10 under Frank Spaziani last season.
"Our goal as a team was to get bowl-eligible," said White. "Then when we beat N.C. State it was, 'Let's get somewhere warm, and let's get better bowl gifts.'"
Shreveport, La., and the AdvoCare V100 Bowl may not have been exactly what White and Co. had in mind, but it's likely to be warmer there than Chestnut Hill when the Eagles meet Arizona at noon on New Year's Eve. Either way, it will be BC's first bowl appearance since 2010.
"It's a huge jump from 2-10 to 7-5," White said. "We had eight wins right in front of us and let it slip away (in a 34-31 loss to Syracuse in the regular-season finale). It'll be good to say the senior class that I was a part of brought BC back to where it should be."
According to Frye, White's football career won't end with BC's bowl game.
"He'll get a shot to be an NFL guy," Frye said.
White said he's hoping his versatility on the offensive line will help him make an NFL roster. He said he's uncertain what position he's best suited to play at the pro level but has ruled out a return to quarterback
"I line up and block people now," he said. "That's what I do."