Although going through the Wisconsin Badgers football program has prepared many for the NFL, the league hasn’t been too kind to running backs from Madison. Even though the verdict is still out on Montee Ball, the likes of Ron Dayne, Michael Bennett and Terrell Fletcher-among others-have fizzled out once they took the next step to the NFL. One former Badger looking to change that course is James White of the New England Patriots. And early on, he’s making a real good impression on the staff.
White had an amazing career at Wisconsin. In his four years donning the cardinal and white for the Badgers, White accumulated 4,015 rushing yards (fourth all-time at Wisconsin), 48 total touchdowns (third-best in UW history, ninth-best for a Big Ten player) all while sharing the backfield for most of his collegiate career. Versatility was not a problem for White either, as he handled return duties as a freshman and sophomore and was asked to catch the ball out of the backfield on numerous occasions.
He’s got a real maturity for someone who is just getting out of college. He’s made a lot of really great plays out here. We’re all trying to work to get better, and we’re all trying to make improvements. We can all do it. The young players need to come out here and keep working hard, and he’s one of those guys who has been out here every day so he’s been able to do that. He’s been able to make a mistake, get the correction, come out again and not make the mistake the next day, so it’s been great.
Head coach Bill Belichick is another that is impressed with how well White has picked up New England’s extensive playbook. Via ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss, Belichick talked to Sirius XM NFL Radio about White’s versatility and his potential to be a three-down back:
He does a good job in the passing game and in the running game — both inside and outside. Blitz pickup — we have a pretty extensive offense for him to learn, but he’s working hard at it. We’ll just let him go and see how it goes, but I think he has the ability to compete on all three downs, in both the running game and the passing game.
Selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, I knew White would be a really good fit for the Patriots and their offense. His ball catching ability coupled with experience in the return game seemed like a great match for Belichick’s team. I’m very excited to see him thrive in an offense that could really showcase his talents, The sky is truly the limit for James White and is a very important piece for the Patriots going forward.