Ole Miss Tailback Hiram White doesn't act like a junior journeyman who has never seen any game action.
In fact, he's entirely comfortable in his 5-10, 190-pound skin, even though he's surrounded by bigger and stronger tailbacks on the Rebel squad - namely BenJarvus Green-Ellis, frosh Cordera Eason, JUCO transfer Bruce Hall and, if he isn't switched exclusively to WR, Mico McSwain, who are all over 200 pounds.
"I have a big heart and will work as hard as anyone to prove I belong," said White, who emerged from spring training in a battle for the number two spot at TB with Hall, who was switched from quarterback midway through the spring session.
White will lower his head and put a shoulder to anyone on the team and his balance at the point of contact is very good.
"I don't know what it is, but I seem to have the ability to absorb a hit and still stay on my feet," he explains. "I surprise myself sometimes."
When spring training was over, he evaluated his performance and came up with only a few things he thought he needed to do to help the Rebels in fall.
"I have to stay healthy, that's number one," explained White, who hails from Pinson Valley HS in Birmingham and walked on at Ole Miss after a semester at Jefferson State Community College. "I had a hand injury in spring and that compromised my ball security some. I put it on the ground more than I ever had because the strength in my hands just wasn't there during some of spring."
Hiram went through spring at 184 pounds, and felt he needed to gain some weight and strength in order to avoid nagging injuries that come with the constant pounding tailbacks take.
"I knew I would get stronger because we are going to work hard in the weight room and we will get stronger under Coach (Aaron) Ausmus," he chuckled. "We don't have a choice there.
"But I felt I needed some more bulk, especially in my chest and arms. That's where I gained it and I feel a lot better heading into fall camp."
All the major lifts in the weight room increased for White.
"My bench went up to 315 pounds from 280 during the offseason. That's a big jump for a guy my size," he continued.
White knows Green-Ellis is the number one tailback, but he feels the battle for the number two slot is wide open.
"I think I'm ahead of Bruce and he thinks he's ahead of me," White smiled. "We'll see. We also have some young guys coming in here who are impressive and we don't know for sure if Mico will play any tailback.
"No matter how we are lined up at the start of spring, I'm going to compete. I don't know any other way. I will prepare and practice like I am number one. On this level, you never know what might happen."
White is not a speed merchant, but he relies on quickness, good vision and excellent balance to weave his way through traffic and get some YAC yards.
"I think my work ethic will get me on the field some. The coaches know I am willing to do whatever it takes to get on the field. I'll play any position and take any assignment they want to give me," he added.
That was reflected in spring when the special teams coaches put him on the first team of three special teams units.
"At the end of spring, I was on punt, kickoff and punt block with the first unit," he said. "Special teams are a big part of the game and the positions I'll be in are playmaker positions, so I'm excited about that possibility. I know I'll have competition there too, but I'm going to do what I have to to keep those jobs."
White uses his size to his advantage, he feels.
"I get underestimated a lot. After I hit it up in the line of scrimmage a few times though, defenders realize I'm not going to back down," he explained. "I'm also a very good pass-blocker. I have a lot of fight in me and will take on anyone."
Hiram White is not likely to be a star on the Ole Miss football team, but he can be a very valuable part of the team.
With his desire, don't count him out.
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