White has fun time in end zone for No. 17 Badgers
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin running back James White always seems to be in a good mood, grinning often when he's around teammates.
Senior year is a whole lot of fun when you spend so much time scoring touchdowns.
With eight touchdowns in the last three games, and a team-high 13 on the year for the 17th-ranked Badgers (7-2), White is making the most of his dwindling opportunities in Wisconsin red.
"Things have just been happening to go my way," White said, laughing. "I still have to come out here, keep working hard, keep watching film, keep leading this team on."
Right on into the end zone.
Two running scores last week in a victory over BYU, and one receiving touchdown. Two rushing scores the previous week against Iowa. Two rushing touchdowns and another receiving touchdown the week before that against Illinois.
White isn't just a three-week wonder, either.
He's the FBS active career leader in rushing touchdowns with 43, the fourth-best total on the school career list. He's also the active leader in total career touchdowns with 46.
"I mean, it's good to have, but I wouldn't be able to get there without my offensive line, with the receivers, with the quarterbacks, even without the other running backs," White said. "It's a team goal."
But at a run-heavy program in which White has often been overshadowed by more explosive teammates. This year, it has been sophomore breakaway threat Melvin Gordon.
Before that, Montee Ball deservedly hogged the spotlight with 5,738 all-purpose yards and an NCAA-record 83 career touchdowns in his four-year career.
The steady, 5-foot-10 White just keeps plugging along. Take the handoff and score. It's routine for him, too.
"He's a guy that people should try to emulate. His demeanor, being humble, hard-working, dedicated," position coach Thomas Hammock said Tuesday after practice about White's imprint on the program.
Freshman Corey Clement, who'll likely take on more carries next year, pointed to White's 14-yard touchdown run last week against BYU as emblematic of the senior's career.
A third-and-2 handoff into the right side of line with the hope of just getting a first down. But White didn't stop.
"He kind of stayed level to himself and planted, and he went. It was kind of shocking to us because we didn't think he was going to stay up after that," Clement said. "But that's the kind of game James plays."
He's a trusted blocker and a reliable receiver, too. White's 625 receiving yards are just 34 from setting the school record for a running back, held by Joe Armentrout.
Tight end Jacob Pedersen describes White as a jack-of-all-trades.
"When he has to run he's going to make that one cut to get you as many yards as possible," Pedersen said. "In the passing game, when a running back can do that in the passing game it's just a nightmare for defenses, knowing that when's he's on the field there's all those possible opportunities."
But running the ball is clearly his forte. He might be primed for another big game this weekend against Indiana — White has averaged 130.7 yards in his career against the Hoosiers, scoring five touchdowns.