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Utah Utes football: Howl of the wolf man

By Connor Malmberg

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Oct. 15 2012 10:09 a.m. MDT

In his first season at Utah, running back John White — also known as the ‘Wolf Man’ — accomplished more than any of his predecessors as he set the school’s single-season rushing record. Now in his second and final year, White has set his sights on making history once again by climbing the career rushing charts.

From an early age, White was the type of athlete who was very comfortable in the spotlight, making headlines. Neighbors in his hometown of Torrance, Calif., not only saw his abilities on the gridiron but were also aware of his reputation on the basketball court.

“Growing up my first love was definitely basketball,” White recalled. “I would play often and usually with guys much older than me. It was really fun, because people would want me to be on their team because I could hold my own against almost anybody.”

Basketball may have been White’s first love, but when he turned six years old his parents, John lll and Vicki White, put their son into an organized football league. White experienced immediate success as a running back.

He continued to perform at a high level as he entered high school, and upon finishing his freshman year, White gave up basketball to focus his attention entirely on football.

As a senior at Torrance High School, White rushed for 1,850 yards and 29 touchdowns, earning all-conference and all-state accolades. A large interest in White grew among Division l programs, and he quickly became a highly-recruited running back.

Unfortunately, White’s journey to stardom was sidetracked when he failed to meet Division l academic requirements. He then had to decide whether he should give up on football and possibly not attend college or enroll at a junior college. It was a decision that would drastically shape his life’s course.

“It was so hard on me when I didn’t get that scholarship I wanted,” White said. “I wanted to quit for a while when I couldn’t go play Division l right away. Inside I felt that I was good enough to play at the next level, but I was demoralized and felt maybe I didn’t have the whole package that would allow me to play.”

With the support of his parents, White chose not to give up on his dream of playing major college football and enrolled at L.A. Harbor College.

“I really thought about things for a while,” White recalled. “I knew my family had done so much for me. My parents had supported me so much growing up and would go out of their way to take me to practice and do all they could to put me in the best schools. I felt that I couldn’t give up on them, so I got my priorities in order and enrolled in junior college. It turned out to be one of the greatest decisions I have ever made.”

Refocused on his ultimate goal, White earned his associates degree in a year and a half by attending classes year round. Not only did he do well in the classroom, White was also named the Central West Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He broke multiple school records from 2009-10.

White’s play caught the attention of several major college programs, especially Utah.

“Coming out of junior college the recruiting experience was completely different,” White explained. “Many schools are no longer interested because you only have two years of eligibility remaining. Utah came in and they were very interested in me.

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