Hall of Fame Class of 2008
Many top flight high school quarterbacks dread seeing the letters “ATH” next to their name, as this often means there are questions about a player's ability to take snaps on Saturday. These questions often deal with arm strength or size, and the coach that snags these dynamic talents is one willing to take a risk and put his offense (or at least promise to put his offense) in the hands of a field general that doesn’t fit the prototype. On signing day way back in 2004 a skinny lad named Pat White, quarterback from Mobile, Alabama’s Daphne High School changed his mind, spurned LSU, and decided to place his trust with Rich Rodriguez and head to Morgantown, West Virginia. One year later Pat White took the controls as a redshirt freshman. And he would then revolutionize the college quarterback position.
Teaming with Steve Slaton, Pat White and the rest of the Mountaineers turned many Thursday nights into must-see television, college football style. Opponents triple dog dared him to the throw the ball, and he still shredded stacked defenses on the ground. And as he has taken more and more snaps, he has improved considerably as a passer. He’s played the pivotal role in turning West Virginia into a perennial national player, and he’s always done it with distinctive panache.
White has been the ideal trigger man for this version of the spread offense, even if he has dealt with some nagging injuries as a result of hits taken. And even after his coach took his playbook and shredder and headed to the Big House, White and his boys turned the Oklahoma defense into little bitty pieces of paper in last season’s Fiesta Bowl, and they've continued to win even with the departure of Mr. Slaton.
Pat White has played 46 games (with three remaining) as West Virginia quarterback. He’s accounted for 98 touchdowns, and he possesses a career passer rating of nearly 100. He’s accounted for over 9700 yards from scrimmage, and last Saturday he became college football’s all-time leading running quarterback, breaking the mark of another college fantasy football great, Brad Smith.
Pat White has been the Offensive MVP of the Fiesta Bowl. He’s been a two-time West Virginia team MVP. He’s been a Gator Bowl MVP and first-team Freshman All-America. He was even drafted in the fourth round of the 2004 MLB draft by the Anaheim Angels.
But almost more important than Pat White’s production is the way he’s done it. No, I’m not claiming that style points are worth more than substance. I am saying that it’s one thing to put up wins and fantasy numbers tossing touchdown passes from the cozy confines of a pro-style or spread pocket. It’s another thing to lead and win while bedazzling and blazing a brand new trail for the likes of Robert Griffin.
I hear that the Pittsburgh and West Virginia rivalry is a pretty fierce one. The game is often played in miserable, bitter cold conditions, conditions that aptly describe the feelings many Mountaineer and Panther fans have for one another. And on November 16, 2006 Pat White and friends went into Heinz Field and created a lasting memory for WVU fans, and a torturous nightmare for the Panther faithful.
West Virginia won the game 45-27. Steve Slaton gained 355 yards from scrimmage and he accounted for four scores. But his backfield mate overshadowed Slaton’s legendary evening.
Pat White ran the ball 23 times and gained 224 yards. His longest scamper covered 64 yards. And while he only threw the ball 16 times, he completed 11 of them for 204 yards, with two going for touchdowns.
This performance was a perfect representation of White’s devastating dual-threat capabilities that had defensive coordinators muttering gibberish from the fetal position.
And White even had a little fun at the end of the blowout:
Michigan fans must be giddy in anticipation, wondering when they’ll get their very own maize and blue version of #5. And they’ll be waiting for a long time. There’s only one Pat White.
He has two regular season contests and a bowl game remaining. Enjoy him while you can.