SALT LAKE CITY — Utah running back John White IV was surprised to learn he's the Pac-12's leading rusher. After three games, the junior college transfer has 380 yards — 18 more than Washington's Chris Polk and 55 better than Heisman Trophy candidate LaMichael James of Oregon.
"I didn't even know that," White said. "I'm not really into stats like that or anything like that."
Leading the conference, though, is something he appreciates.
After racking up 2,527 yards over two seasons at Los Angeles Harbor College, White is making a successful jump to major college football. He ran for 150 yards in the season opener against Montana State. A 56-yard performance at USC followed before last week's 174-yard outburst at BYU.
"We'll see at the end of the year if I'm still that top guy," White added. "I'm just going to keep on balling out."
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said White has made continual improvement since joining the program.
"In spring ball he was learning the system, making that transition from junior college to Division I," Whittingham explained. "All through spring, then all through fall camp and even in the first three ballgames, he's gotten better each week."
Whittingham attributes a lot of that to the play of Utah's offensive line. However, he acknowledged it takes a combined effort to successfully run the ball.
"It's two-fold," Whittingham said. "We're doing a nice job up front with the O-line and John's doing a nice job hitting the creases."
So much so, in fact, that White ranks ninth nationally with 126.7 yards per game. He's scored five touchdowns and averages 6.2 yards per carry.
"For that to happen that's a compliment to John, first of all. He's a great running back," said starting left tackle John Cullen. "He makes people miss. He makes cuts. He's fast."
Cullen was excited to hear that White was leading the Pac-12 in rushing.
"That's a great thing," he said. "It pumped me up. I didn't even know that."
Quarterback Jordan Wynn, however, isn't surprised White ranks among the conference elite.
"It's not a huge shock the way he plays," Wynn said while praising the mentality White brings to the field and how he runs with the ball. "It's really electrifying."
White leads the Utes with 383 all-purpose yards. He's the conference's second-leading scorer with 12 points per game — reaching the end zone six times (five rushing touchdowns, one receiving).
An established ground game is diversifying the offense.
"It's nice. Any time you can run the football it opens up a lot of things and he's doing a good job," Wynn said of White. "He came in over the summer, worked hard and just learned. He's a good player and very explosive."
EXTRA POINTS: The Utes will practice again Thursday before getting the weekend off while the coaching staff hits the recruiting trail. … Utah's next game is Oct. 1 at home against Washington. The Huskies (2-1) host California (3-0) on Saturday. … The Utes have won 10 straight games following bye weeks. The streak dates back to 1996.
LEADER OF THE PAC
Rushing leaders Games Attempts Yards
John White, Utah 3 61 380
Chris Polk, Washington 3 67 362
LaMichael James, Oregon 3 42 325
Stepfan Taylor,Stanford 3 54 289
Isi Sofele, California 3 62 282
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company