WMU's White beating adversity
Western Michigan's Jordan White is making a bit of a name for himself this season as one of the nation's top-ranked receivers statistically.
He's also one of the key hopes if the Broncos are to pull of a monumental upset of Notre Dame.
With what White has been through, though, Irish fans may find it tough to root against him.
In a career that is in its fifth season, White has lost two of them to torn ACLs, one on each knee.
Then there's the matter of his father, in a coma since May 2008 when he suffered a brain aneurysm that triggered a car accident.
"I definitely wish he was with us," White said of his father, who played one year in the NFL as a defensive end for the Washington Redskins and now resides in Louisiana to be closer to relatives. "I guess you can say 'with us' because he is in a coma and not really responsive.
"If he was here, he would want me to be doing the same thing. I know he's definitely watching and everything that's going on right now, he would definitely be excited at where I am at."
Where the 6-foot, 211-pound senior is at through five games was No. 6 in the nation in average receiving yards per game (107) and No. 10 in both catches (7.4) per game and total receiving yards (535).
The fifth-year senior who is majoring in advertising and promotion plans to apply to the NCAA for a sixth season while going for a masters in business administration.
Along the way, the Cleveland native seems to have added an unlisted major -- overcoming adversity. Major knee surgery on both knees in a three year-period, it turned out, was just part of it.
"It was one of those experiences that you put on the rÃ©sumÃ© of life," he said of the injuries suffered in pre-season camp his freshman and junior seasons.
"To have injuries like that and to overcome that type of adversity, and be in the position that I am in now, it really gives you good experience with life skills," White said.
Doctors advised him not to play again after the second injury.
"I definitely did not want to hear that about something I love to do," he said. "I didn't read too much into what they said."
Instead he took a realistic approach.
"If I am going to play and get hurt again, and I have to do another rehab, I am going to do that," he said. "I am going to go until I really physically cannot go."
His teammates and coaches helped him get through it all, he added. And these days the knees feel like they have never been hurt, he said, which was something he could not say after the first surgery.
White has additional perspective on his side with his father's situation.
"Realizing the experience he's in and what's going on with him, it's just a wake-up call to get up every day and come to practice" and make the most of it, he said.
Despite White's big year, which will bring him into the Notre Dame game with more than 1,300 career receiving yards and 100 catches, the Broncos had been struggling until they pounced on Ball State 45-16 Saturday.
Their rushing attack had been anemic, averaging less than 77 yards in their first four games, and it's put added pressure on quarterback Alex Carder, who was averaging 256.3 yards passing per contest but had seven interceptions in his first year as a starter.
Saturday, though, the Broncos turned five Ball State turnovers into 24 points and Carder had one of his best games, rushing for 66 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries and passing for 265 yards, completing 17 of 29 with one TD and no interceptions.
"He's lively," said White of the sophomore. "He's a good guy to be around. He's an energetic guy like a Brett Favre or Tony Romo."
Carder's play earlier this season against Michigan State in a 38-14 loss at Spartan Stadium exceeded White's expectations.
Carder was 27-of-49 for 220 yards with one interception with 38 yards rushing against an MSU team that is still undefeated.
But Carder had four interceptions in a loss to Toledo and completed just 14 of 33 passes in 33-13 loss to Idaho.
His other big game was in a 49-14 win Sept. 11 over Nicholls State in which he threw five touchdown passes, two of them to White, who set career highs with 13 catches and 170 receiving yards.
"He's struggling a little bit but we just have to communicate a little bit better with him with what we are seeing out there," said White a few days prior to the Ball State game.
White said playing opponents like Michigan State and Notre Dame in their huge stadiums is a boost.
"I feel it brings out a little more in us," he said. "But at the end of the day, it's still a football game and we are all college athletes, looking to do the same thing, and that's win."
White was not recruited by the Irish or Michigan State. It provides a little incentive, although he's perfectly happy with where he's at.
"I am blessed and happy to be in the situation I am in," he said. "There is no other place that I would rather be right now than right here."
* Who: Notre Dame (3-3) vs. Western Michigan (2-3)
* When: Saturday at 2:30 p.m. EDT
* Where: Notre Dame Stadium; South Bend
* TV: NBC
* Radio: WNSN (101.5 FM), WSBT (960 AM)
* Line: Notre Dame by 221/2
* Online: Discuss ND football at IrishFanNetwork.com
* Quoting: "I told him ... 'You're the guy that everybody puts on a pedestal. You're the quarterback at Notre Dame, you've got to make those plays.' He's all in on that, and that's the great thing about coaching him." - ND coach Brian Kelly on quarterback Dayne Crist