LOS ANGELES — While Utah running back John White was growing up in Torrance, Calif., he played Pop Warner football for a USC team. It allowed him to meet college stars like LenDale White and Reggie Bush. White's mother, Vicki, works at USC's financial aid office, and the youngster became quite a devoted follower of the program.
Now, years later, White will be carrying the ball in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum when the Utes face the Trojans on Saturday.
It's quite meaningful for White, who is eager for the homecoming.
"Man, it's just unbelievable. I never really thought I would be playing against the Trojans. I grew up being a fan of the Trojans," White said. "So it's just a big opportunity for me to show my abilities and have our team go out and come back with a win."
The junior, who played at Los Angeles Harbor College before signing with Utah, led the Utes with 150 yards rushing in last week's 27-10 win over Montana State.
WYNN DETERMINED: Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn is motivated to put last week's conservative 101-yard passing performance against Montana State behind him.
"I didn't play a bad game but I didn't play a great game. It was just OK," Wynn said. "That's not what the coaches want from me. That's not what I want from myself, just to be an OK quarterback. I've just got to let it rip."
Chow, as expected, is downplaying the reunions.
That stuff, he explained, doesn't matter once play starts. It's just guys in a different color of jersey.
"Really they can say what they want to say," Chow said. "It's not a big deal at all.
FOTU RETURNING: Senior Nai Fotu, who was arrested in February for driving under the influence, has been reinstated and will play against USC.
Whittingham said Fotu will be part of some sub packages and play some base defense as well.
"He brings a lot more to this team than just his physical ability. It's his passion and excitement that really becomes infectious to the entire team," Whittingham said. "He'll line up as both a defensive end and linebacker. You'll be able to find him in both locations. It's good to have him back and I commend him for adhering to everything we laid out for him."
AH, THE MEMORIES: Whittingham has been to the Coliseum a couple of times before, beginning in 1964 when his father, Fred, played there with the Los Angeles Rams. During his own playing career, two decades later in the now defunct USFL, Whittingham squared off against Steve Young and the Los Angeles Express.
"It's a great place and great venue," said Whittingham, who noted that he also attended a USC-Notre Dame game at the stadium in the past 20 years.3 comments on this story
"Robert's awesome, but he's not Superman," Barkley told reporters in the postgame press conference. "I'm not just looking for him when I'm out there, I'm checking for everyone. We can't get to a point where one guy determines our game plan."
EXTRA POINTS: Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott will be in attendance. … Utah has only played in the Coliseum three times before — losing to USC in 1925, 1932 and 1948 by a combined score of 90-2. … USC is 3-1 in openers of new leagues. … Whittingham will be seeking his 60th win as Utah's head coach. He enters the game with a 59-20 record.