While James White was going through free agency this offseason in an attempt to land a new contract, the New England Patriots running back was also on another quest.
White, who played four seasons at the University of Wisconsin before entering the NFL in 2014, never graduated from college, but after taking classes since last spring, White has completed what he had started last weekend by graduating from Wisconsin with a degree alive. scientific communications.
“It means a lot,” White said. “Go to college, your goal is to first get a college degree and be a college athlete, you hope to have the opportunity to play in the NFL and have the chance to continue playing now and don’t take that for granted, Either. “
It was a monumental achievement for White, who each offseason had to grapple with his parents’ questions about when he would take the final steps to graduate. White planned to keep all of this a secret, but after a tragic car crash in September that claimed the life of her father, Tyrone, and left her mother, Lisa, seriously injured, White let her mother know that he intended to get his diploma.
“My wife, my parents, they motivated me to finish it,” White said. “It’s just good to finally be done.”
While completing his schoolwork, White also had the difficult task of navigating the autonomous agent market. Rumors circulated during free agency that White could join old friend Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but at the end of March White remained familiar and stayed in New England, signing a contract. a year worth $ 2.5 million with the Patriots.
“Free agency is really weird, honestly,” White said. “On a daily basis, everything changes a bit. Some days a team may have interest, the next day they may not, and then the next day they may have interest. It’s a little different than you might imagine. It’s a lot to worry about what’s going to happen and where you’re going to be next. But the Patriots were in the mix the whole time and it’s good to be back.
White knows that careers in the NFL, especially as a running back, are usually short-lived, so extending his career and getting back with the organization White entered the league with is something he is. proud.
“Obviously everyone wants to go to the NFL and think we’re going to play 20 years like Tom, but that’s an unrealistic thing,” White said. “Every year I have the opportunity to play, I don’t take it for granted. There are a lot of people who would like to be in my place. So I just try to use it every day, whether it’s the offseason, in the facilities and in training, and I attack it with a good attitude and do my best every day.
For White, the 2020 campaign was one of the least productive seasons of his seven years with the Patriots.
An exceptional threat as an off-backfield wide receiver, White had 49 receptions for 375 yards and one touchdown, which was his lowest in all three categories since his second season with the Patriots.
But White should still be able to use his specific skills as a very reliable third defenseman on a consistent basis – White has played at least 14 games per season in addition to one.
White is the oldest statesman in a crowded back room right now which stars Damien Harris, who became the team character a year ago, the former Sony first-round pick. Michel, Brandon Bolden and JJ Taylor. The Patriots also selected murderous runner Rhamondre Stevenson in the fourth round of the draft, which gave the Patriots plenty of versatility in the backfield.
“We have a great group of guys,” White said. “Everyone has their own style and I think that’s really cool. We always have different style fullbacks in the group and like I say every time, everyone knows we’re not going to play 100% of the snaps. We all work together, have fun and make the most of our opportunities. “
White was just one of many free agents the Patriots brought in this offseason as they looked to revamp the offense. These additions certainly change the outlook for the Patriots and create an excitement for the start of the season that White also shares.
“I think you’re still excited about this and I think everyone is probably very excited because we obviously didn’t do our best last year,” White said. “Everyone is excited, they want to come back and be better.”