On Guard

It's become something of a competition – who will be the first media member to get WVU quarterback Pat White to say more than one sentence at a time? Trying to get the redshirt freshman to open up is harder than tackling him in the open field.

Before we go any further, it needs to be said that I don't believe White is being arrogant or snobby with the writers and broadcasters who are trying to obtain a good quote from him. His answers, brief as they are, don't contain any condescension or haughtiness. It's simply part of the redshirt freshman's public persona – when he sees a microphone or notebook, he becomes quite guarded.

Q: Pat, what were you thinking when Maryland scored those two quick touchdowns and you got the ball back?

A: We have to put it in.

Q: What were your thoughts when you learned Adam Bednarik was hurt?

A: I have to go in and step up.

True enough, but hardly any enlightening commentary there. Perhaps it's just that he's not used to the media crush yet, even though he had to experience some of it after being a star at Daphne High School and the focus of a hotly contested recruiting battle between WVU, LSU and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I've seen many players grow remarkably in this regard – guys that looked like they were being put on the rack as freshmen blossomed into excellent speakers a year or two down the road. Former WVU quarterback Rasheed Marshall was one such example, as he grew from something of an introvert into an excellent spokesman.

Q: Can you take us through the 33-yard run you had on the last touchdown drive?

A: Tried to hit the hole and didn't see anything, so I made the cut and there it was.

Q: It looked like you made more than one cut on that run.

A: Umm-hmm.

A lot of players, given the chance to talk about a huge play they made, would at least give up a paragraph. Not White. He speaks very little about himself, and in fact, seems to clam up even more tightly when pressed about his play. He's quick to give credit to teammates, and noted that he mostly "handed the ball off" on WVU's final scoring drive.

When White does answer, it's usually accompanied with a smile. He's pleasant, pays attention, and acknowledges questions with ease. It's just that there's not a whole lot of information coming back the other way.

O.K., so we've decided that it's just normal for White to be quiet. It's his demeanor, and he's a freshman, right? To confirm, we make a beeline for the head coach.

"I haven't noticed that at all," Rich Rodriguez said of the lack of words from White. "He communicates well, and he talks a lot. Maybe you guys are asking him the wrong questions."

That last was said jokingly, but maybe there's a glimmer of truth in there.

"He's pretty wound up on the field, and he actually talks a lot more than Adam [Bednarik] does," Rodriguez continues. "He talks a lot out there, and we don't have any problems in that area."

Hmmmm. Maybe it is us. Questions from media members can sometimes be as poorly phrased as, "Talk about so and so". Not exactly Edward R. Murrow stuff. And White seems to pick up on that, as some of White's answers, as noted before, do come with a small smile that seems to say, ‘I could give you a long answer, but I prefer to keep most of it to myself.' Too, part of his reasoning could be that he doesn't want to take the spotlight away from his older teammate, and is keeping a low profile in order to stay in the good graces of his fellow players.

Whatever the reasoning, it's hard to argue with. White has earned respect from those around him, has no problem taking charge in the huddle, and communicates well with the coaches. If dealing with the media is his biggest concern at this point, then he's well on his way to becoming a successful college student, both on and off the field.

Q: Do you think you proved yourself today since you got more time than usual?

A: I just went in and did what I was capable of doing

The battle continues…

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