EXCLUSIVE: Q&A with Jason White

Oklahoma's Heisman Trophy quarterback talks about returning for his sixth year, the Sooners' offseason workouts including comments on Adrian Peterson and Rhett Bomar, his hunger to win a national championship and much, much more in this exclusive OUINSIDER.COM interview.

NORMAN, Okla. — Jason White has always been a hard working low key individual who doesn't look for the spotlight. If you didn't know White won the Heisman Trophy last year, then you certainly wouldn't guess by watching White in public. You wouldn't know that White was a Heisman winner by watching him at workouts either. Sure, you can tell he is a leader and experienced, but his teammates don't give him the star treatment and White doesn't ask for any either.

White received another spectacular honor today when he was named the Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year. White has been very low key this summer, but as busy as a normal college senior football player with a family to take care of. However, Jason has always been kind to this reporter and he agreed to sit down with OUInsider.com and its members to catch us up on the latest with the 2003 Heisman Trophy winner.

JH: Congratulations on being named the Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year. It is quite an honor for you isn't it when you consider the number of great athletes in the Big 12?

JW: "Definitely. It is a great honor and a great award to receive. The award is not only something that recognizes you and your team, but you're every day life as well. I am very proud to be recognized for such a high honor."

JH: I know you are a big sports fan, so I know you realize that some of the best athletes in college sports play in the Big 12?

JW: "Yeah, that is definitely one reason why that this is truly a great honor. To just watch the Big 12 play in every sport is amazing to see some of the athletes that are out there."

JH: You were a three or four sport star at Tuttle High, so have you ever thought about giving baseball or basketball a try at OU?

JW: "No, I think once I got out of high school I kind of realized that football was my thing. I just thought I better stick with that."

JH: Didn't you throw 90 plus as a pitcher in high school?

JW: "I could throw hard, but I don't know how fast it was. It was somewhere in that area, or at least that is what I was told."

JH: You have looked great at workouts and you are working out without any braces on your knees. How are they (knees) doing and how are your agility workouts going?

JW: "I have come a long way since last season, as far as workouts go. Last year at this time I couldn't do a lot of things because I wasn't allowed to. Things certainly weren't going as well as they are now. This year I am 10 times better in everything that I am doing, as far as agility-wise, and running-wise. Everything has been feeling great and I am extremely excited about the season."

JH: Your wide receivers were messed over by the Sporting News, who was going to rank them No. 1 in the country, but at the last minute ranked them No. 2. Don't you think they will play with a little extra incentive this year?

JW: "Yeah, I think they definitely took that snub to heart. Being No.. is certainly something that they strive for and they want to be the top group in the country. They are working hard this summer to do that. They are showing up and doing extra routes and catching extra balls to achieve that."

JH: You recently were honored in your hometown of Tuttle for winning the Heisman Trophy, and 1968 Heisman winner Steve Owens also was in Tuttle to celebrate with you. That had to be a lot of fun for you wasn't it?

JW: "It was a great time for me to come back to my hometown and get honored like that. It was especially great to see how many people showed up to help me celebrate and the support that I have had throughout the years. All the people in Tuttle have always been so supportive of me. Mr. Owens is always such a class individual and he has been a big asset to me and a great guy to be around. It was fun to stand out in front of all the folks in Tuttle and be honored."

JH: I guess the good news for you is the fact that you don't have many more banquets to go to this summer, and that you can just concentrate on getting ready for the season? I am sure that winning the Heisman has certainly been an eye opening experience for you?

JW: "It certainly teaches you certain things. You meet so many people and you have to talk to certain people. Then you have to give speeches at all these banquets that you don't know a lot about, but you eventually learn a lot about the process."

JH: Are you going to the ESPY's in mid-July?

JW: "I am not sure. I got my invitation last week, but I am not sure if I am going to be able to go or not. If I can that would be one thing that I would like to do."

JH: Are you to the point that you would rather not to go award ceremonies and such so that you can zero on the start of practice?

JW: "I have turned down a couple of banquets this summer because I need to move on at this point. Those banquets are still for what happened last year and I am trying to move onto this upcoming year and the future. Most of the time I would rather stay around here and workout with the team."

JH: It seemed nationally that OU has to apologize for what happened at the end of the year, and then you got criticized for getting roughed up the last couple of games and getting injured at the end of the year. This year Matt Leinart of USC is the name you see at preseason first team All-American at quarterback. It seems that you are not getting a whole lot of respect, but I have a feeling that you really don't care about that — that you would just as soon come out and play under the radar early in the season?

JW: "You are right, in that the preseason polls don't bother me at all. Those are all preseason polls and I look at them the same way I look at the preseason rankings. As far as I am concerned, they really don't mean a whole lot. They are not something that you really read as an athlete and it is better to go out and play your game all year. That is what we would like to do this year, and hopefully finish a lot better than we did last year."

JH: I have always felt that you get motivated more when people doubt you the most?

JW: "Oh, sure. I can definitely find some things that can motivate me and the team. It was like a couple of years ago I had a quote pinned up on my room that said that I would never play at Oklahoma. The article said that OU had recruited past me and I had that hanging up in my room for a long time. That was something that I do and this year I have another one that a friend gave me that says that we should have somebody else playing quarterback. It is definitely a motivation not only for me, but for the whole team to prove what we didn't get to prove last year."

JH: Was it an easy decision for you to come back for a sixth year at OU?

JW: "Oh, it was very easy. Not many people get a chance to play six years of college football. College football is fun and it is best time of our lives, for those of us that get a chance to play it. Not only that, but I am glad I decided to come back because of the outcome of the last two games. That is something that eats on me a little bit. I want to make it better next year."

JH: Do you feel you are as healthy as any time since your freshman year at OU?

JW: "Yeah, finally. I am finally doing everything else that the team does as far as running. This is the first time in two years that I have been able to do that. So, I am extremely excited to do that."

JH: We were all speculating about your injuries at the end of the year, but there was no question that you are banged up. And when you are hurting it effects your game doesn't it?

JW: "I don't think it effects you that much. I was able to play and I went through practice with no problems. You can't make that an excuse why I didn't play well. I was able to play and I was able practice all week leading up to both games. I just don't think my injuries effected the outcome of the games."

JH: You are going through 7-on-7 drills and you have most of your players back on offense. How optimistic are you that this is going to be a great offensive year for the Sooners?

JW: "I think we have the ability to be really good this year because we have everybody back and everybody has another year of experience under their belt. Plus, everybody is so willing to work this summer. We have had a great turnout at 7-on-7 and it is not only the skill guys — the linemen get together and do certain drills. Everybody is real excited about the season. I think we have the ability to be even better than we were last year."

JH: I can't remember the big guys getting together for their own set of drills before in the summer. It that something new?

JW: "Yeah, I think it is. I don't think they go at the same time as us, but I do know that I see them out there at different times doing offensive line drills and defensive line drills together."

JH: Do you feel OU will be much better in the run game?

JW: "I think we will be better just in the fact that everybody has another year of running the plays and a year to run them. That is huge for a football player. One year experience always helps any player. I think that and the fact we have a lot of talent in our running backs and offensive line will improve our running game."

JH: What has been your first impressions of Adrian Peterson and Rhett Bomar?

JW: "They are two great guys who work extremely hard. I know that Rhett comes up and throws extra with me, so he already has a good work ethic. When Adrian comes to work out he works out hard. You can tell they are young, but they are excited and talented, and that is always good."

JH: Do you enjoy the roe that you are in as the leader of this football team, especially when it might be easy for the young guys to put you on such a high pedestal because you won the Heisman last year?

JW: "I don't know if I sense it as far as the leadership goes. A lot of the guys know that I am the guy that gets 7-on-7 together, and a lot of the guys look to me for direction on what time we have to be there and stuff like that. I don't think any of the guys look at me and say 'WOW' or anything. I think with most of the guys I am just Jason and that is the way I want it. I just want to be another guy on the team. They look to me on what time they have to be there, what plays we are going to run and stuff like that."

JH: Do you meet them in the alley if they are late or something?

JW: "No, I never have to do that and wouldn't want to with most of our guys."

JH: What do you try to accomplish in 7-on-7 drills?

JW: "Seven-on-seven drills are basically seven defensive people and seven offensive guys. On offense you have your quarterbacks, running back, tight end and wide receivers, and on defense you have linebackers and defensive backs. It is all passing and it helps out both sides of the ball. It helps the offense with their routes and the wide receivers with running their routes. It helps the quarterback with his reads as well. On defense, it is very good for them as they get a chance to go against a lot of pass and the more they see it the better they defend it. It helps us throughout the year and in fact during practice we continue to do it."

JH: Your wide receiver core received a boost lately when Mark Bradley was cleared to practice.

JW: "Mark has worked hard to come back, and I know exactly what he is going through. He has worked hard to come back and everybody else is healthy I think. It is exciting to see everybody back on the field because the only people I get a chance to see are those 7-on-7 guys, and some of those guys were banged up at the end of last year too. They are now back to full speed and working hard. We are extremely excited about next year and continue to work hard.

JH: How is your 18-month old daughter doing?

JW: "She is into everything now and she is a mess. We have to keep an eye on her at all times."

JH: I know as a quarterback you love having Mark Clayton back because I don't think anybody improved more than he did last year. I also know that winning under Coach Stoops has become expected because of all the success you have enjoyed at OU. But you still have to enjoy the quest to get there don't you?

JW: "It is fun. I have been here with Mark the whole time and I have been able to see him go from scout team wide receiver to All-American. It is always extremely exciting to watch the other guys on the team and see how much they have improved since they have been here. Throughout the season it is fun to see every player improve and I saw that last year in Mark as he improved in every game. All players do that by learning from the last game. Going through the season 12-0 was extremely exciting, but we would have rather won those last two games more than anything. Our goal this year it to win them all, and we have the talent to do that."

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