White: 'Ball security is job security'

White: 'Ball security is job security'
May 10, 2014, 2:30 pm
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FOXBORO -- James White didn't get a chance to start at Wisconsin until his senior season. If it bothered him at all to play behind Montee Ball, now with the Broncos, he didn't show it.

His team-first attitude is one that should help him as a pro. He was taken with the No. 130 overall pick by the Patriots on Saturday.

"It wasn't difficult," White said of playing as a reserve for three years in college. "I just played my role on the team. Something that I have to do once I get to to this organization: playing my role, wherever the coaches put me. I'm gonna go out there whether it's special teams, whether it's being on offense, whatever they want me to do I'm going to go out there and do anything I can to help the team just like I did at Wisconsin."

Despite his at-times limited workload, White was a valuable member of the Badgers' offense from the time he was a freshman. He won Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten in 2010 and fumbled just twice in 754 career touches.

"Ball security is job security," White said in a conference call after being selected. "So if you wanna be on the football field, you've gotta hold onto the football."

White is 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds. With his ability to pass-block and catch the football -- he set a school record for receiving yards by a running back with 670 -- he has all the skills to be a productive third-down back.

He said he was familiar with the careers that Kevin Faulk and Danny Woodhead had in New England and respected all they were able to accomplish as backs who thrived in the passing game. His favorite running back of all-time was another multi-talented back, Brian Westbrook.

"He's a guy that's very versatile," White said. "Catch the ball out of the backfield. Did whatever the team wanted him to do. That's a guy I want to model my game after."

Wisconsin's offense changed last season with new offensive coordinator Andy Lutwig who made an effort to incorporate the team's backs in the passing game more often. White adapted quickly and found enough success to be named Second Team-All Big Ten.

He admitted there was a lot to learn, but his experience could prove valuable when he gets to New England where knowledge of of the playbook from the perspective of multiple positions is highly valued.

"Know what everybody's doing on the field," he said. "Know what the receivers are doing. You could be in that position if it's a slot, whether it's being out wide. Just knowing what everybody's doing on the field so if you're put in that situation you already know what to do."

As he develops an understanding of the Patriots' system, White will be competing with the likes of Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen for playing time. That sits just fine with him. It's nothing he hasn't done before.

"Competition brings out the best in everybody," he said. "You compete with the best, you're gonna eventually be the best. Compete with those guys, learn from one another. I think it lets the offense be a lot more explosive to have fresh guys on the field while defensive guys are tired."