Page 12 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 12, 1988
'M' lineman Brent
White going full speed ahead
BY ADAM SCHEFTER
July 3, 1987, was a memorable day. July Fourth
was only 15 minutes away and there was a loud bang.
Crash. Unfortunately for Michigan defensive lineman
Brent White, it wasn't firecrackers that were making=
White had pulled up to the flashing yellow light at
an intersection in Ypsilanti. He stopped and looked at
the road. He looked again, and again, and once more.
That wasn't enough.
As White went through the intersection, a car came
out of nowhere and plowed right into the driver's side
of the car. White was jolted. His knee smashed into the
dashboard, yet all he felt was a little scratch.
OH NO, he thought. He had wrecked his
roommate Matt McCoy's car. The hood was dented and
pushed up into the window. Smoke was rising from
the car. He was so angry that he began to bang on the
He tried to get out to of the car, but the door was
jammed. He had to throw his elbow and shoulder into
it to bash it open. Finally, he got out and walked
around the car to survey the damage. He took out more
frustration by banging on the roof of the car.
Oh no, he thought. His white leather shoes were
covered with blood streaming from his right leg. He
took off his shoe, threw it down, and began yelling
Oh no, he thought. What about the other car. Inside
was a woman holding her son. Both were frightened,
but both uninjured.
THE CAR. The shoe. The other people. These
were his worries. He didn't realize the extent of his
own injury until he was wheeled into hospital and'
everyone inside stared.
"I figured I would miss some practices but when
everyone was looking at me, I said, 'This must be
serious,"' White said. "I sat up, looked at it, and saw
this big gash, with white stringy stuff floating around.'
I started flipping out."
The white stuff, according to team physician Gerald
O'Connor, was cartilage from the lining of his bone.
Part of it popped out during the accident. White had
chipped his distal femur, an open fracture'of the knee Michigan
joint. O'Connor performed surgery that night leaving become a
White's football career in jeopardy.
"I had flashbacks of when I started playing football," White said.
"All I kept thinking about was God, about how hard I worked, and now
He just took it away from me."
THE NEXT morning the coaching staff came. White remembers
that distinctive shadow in the hallway. The one that had its hands on its
hips, its head tilted, and its mouth wide open. White dreaded this
shadow, as much as any referee does on Saturday afternoon.
"What the hell happened?" Schembechler asked. White told him.
"What time was this?" Schembechler questioned. White answered
"11:45?" said Schembechler in a raised voice. "What did I tell you?
Nothing good ever happens past 11 o'clock, so don't go out."
SCHEMBECHLER was also unhappy that White was living in
The next four months for White were sheer torture.
He spent six hours a day on a passive-motion machine
that stimulates knee motion. He wore a neuro-muscular
stimulator four hours a day. And when he wasn't
exercising, he was sleeping from exhaustion.
EVENTUALLY, he was lifting weights three
times a week and working out everyday on the upper-
arm motion-bike for cardiovascular conditioning.
White hated the bike so much that he would go into
the stalls in the bathroom, turn out the lights, and
climb up on the toilet hiding his legs so he wouldn't
have to get on the machine.
"I've already declared war on that thing," White said.
"I've sworn to God and everybody else that that
machine will be dismantled before I leave this
But by far, the hardest thing was attending practice
on crutches. Schembechler has a rule that all players,
injured or not, must be at practice. White was so
emotionally upset one day that he pulled over 4
Schembechler and, with tears in his eyes, asked forsa
couple of days off.
SCHEMBECHLER answered no. He told White:
"Since you signed your letter of intent, you were a part
of the team. Son, I've got you for three more years.
Now go do your rehab and watch the rest of practice"
Schembechler smiled as he said it and walked off.:
"I'll tell you one thing about that kid," Moeller
said. "With all the hardships and disappointments he's
had, and I'm sure everyone bitches in their own little
corner of the world, he has never been close to Ma
Sproblem. He's always been a man about it and kept
Hard work made it possible for White to come back
last season against Iowa. Although White didn't return
to the form that made him a Parade magazine All-
America and the only player from the Midwest to make
the USA Today's first-team All-America team, he did
get in on five plays. He didn't make any tackles, but
did manage to deflect a pass.
This year he has made tackles and plenty of them. In
fact, he trails only Mark Messner in tackles-for-loss 4
File Photo with six. One of those came Saturday against the top
injuy tooffensive lineman in the nation, Michigan State's
injury to Tony Mandarich. White jumped outside on him and
brought down the scrambling quarterback. In the
process he pulled down Mandarich.
The 6-foot-6 Mandarich laid on the ground, like a slain giant,
slightly shaken up, yelling, "Tell White, I'm gonna kill him. I'm
gonna kill him."
White's performance was so impressive that offensive line coach
Jerry Hanlon told White after the game, "You came of age today."
But White still feels he has a way to go before he reaches the point
where he would like to be at.
"If I hadn't had my accident, I'd be a hell of a lot better than I am
now," White said. "But I really feel like I'm starting to play like my
old self. After I get a tackle, I say, 'Hey, I really blew the crap out of
that guy and almost knocked his head off.' "
It's been a long tough road back. But that's nothing new. White has
encountered tough roads in the past.
defensive lineman Brent White has overcome a career-threatening
standout on the Wolverine defense.
Ypsilanti for the summer. He wants all his players to live within two
miles of the practice site. White wanted to live with the McCoys,
however, since he could save some money. Now, he was paying the
Assistant coach Gary Moeller ordered White to call his parents,
something White did not want to do. He knew the memories that would
be conjured up. When White was in first grade, his sister, Holly, was
killed in an automobile accident.
But his parents were notified in- Pennsylvania, where they were
visiting White's ill grandmother.
"My mother really took it well," said White, the Dayton, Ohio,
native. "I was surprised. I could tell she was holding back and biting her
tongue not to let it out."
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