Only four Badger freshmen avoided a redshirt last season. Johnny White, at least, wishes it was three.
"I'm not exactly happy with it," White said. "I should have redshirted but sometimes the team needs you and you have to do whatever's best for the team basically. But that's what happened so I just have to deal with it the best way and make the best of it."
The Pearland, Texas native did not see as much playing time during his initial season as he would have liked but that should change this year. After only playing in two games last fall, White is working out with the second-team defense this spring, behind senior Robert Brooks. Sophomore Joe Stellmacher, who has not quite healed from a broken leg suffered early last season, is expected to join the mix in the fall.
"Johnny's a freshman and Robert is going to be a senior so there's an age difference in the football maturity," defensive backs coach Ron Lee said. "Johnny's pushing him…So I think he feels that there are guys behind him. (Robert) feels like the old man. He's smarter than those guys….but those legs aren't as fast as they used to be."
At the very least, with Brooks departing after the 2004-05 season, White is doing what he can to fill in for him after he leaves.
"It's been more of friend/teacher relationship instead of somebody who I got to get his spot," Brooks said. "It's been a lot easier that he takes the stuff to heart and he knows that I've been there and that I know what to do so he listens."
Even if White was not completely happy with redshirting, he acknowledged that he learned a lot from his teammates last season, lessons ranging from play on the field to traveling and preparing before game time. And even though his first season may not have turned out as desired, White is looking forward to what lies ahead for him.
‘This upcoming season is going to be a learning experience," White said. "This season I just want to get some more experience on the field and learn how to perfect my position under Robert Brooks and Jim Leonhard, and just let them guide and lead me to being a better football player."