Call me a sucker for comeback stories, because I never tire of hearing them.
Lucky for me, the life of Texas Tech walk-on John White fits the bill.
Born in Bremond, Texas, a town of roughly a thousand residents, White was a man of humble beginnings. Growing up, White spent his summers lending a hand to local agriculturalists, tilling the fields of cotton farms. When he was not working on the land, White was busy helping his father with his swine business, breeding and raising pigs to impress at county and even national show-pig competitions. White worked hard enough to see his pigs deemed “grand champions” at a few shows and some were sold at top dollar at statewide events. Not the most glamorous achievement in the world, but White learned the value of hard work at an early age.
By the time White was ready to graduate Bremond High School, his defensive prowess on the football field had local division III powerhouse Mary Hardin-Baylor (ranked 2nd the South region) recruiting him. White was all set to play for MHB when he received a call two weeks before his graduation from Texas Tech defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow. Glasgow gave White a chance to play for the Red Raiders, not on scholarship, but as a preferred walk-on.
Grateful for every opportunity presented to him, he chose to attend Texas Tech. White never held unrealistic expectations and kept his nose to the ground, “It’ll be worth it my senior year if I got to play in one game on special teams,” he thought as a freshman.
“I never really looked at the future of it,” he said.
At the end of his true freshman season in 2012, White was able to find a job in Tech’s Electrical Engineering department, helping specifically with the soldering and wiring of the video board lights inside Texas Tech’s Jones AT&T Stadium.
After years of diligence on and off the field, White was given the opportunity to play on the Red Raider’s special teams, and has played in 16 games since 2013 and accruing 6 tackles.
Sure, these numbers aren’t staggering, and some players can tally 6 tackles in a single game, but that’s not what this is about. Even in such a small role, White is grateful, not resentful, for this opportunity.
“When I got the chance, I ran,” said White. “It’s a dream come true.”
Now in his senior season with the team, White is on scholarship and is living out his dreams as a defensive back under Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Prior to Kingsbury’s arrival in 2013, White wasn’t treated with the same respect as those on the team who were receiving athletic scholarships.
“I’m grateful that these coaches came in. When they got here, I was in a dark place in my athletic career. Before Kingsbury came in, it was rough. The old staff, they didn’t appreciate the walk-ons.”
The next time White makes a play, he, as well as the rest of Red Raider Nation, will rejoice in watching the replay on the stadium’s JumboTron; White might even chime in with a, “Hey! I helped build that thing!” but he’s probably too humble to bring that up.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports