White Hot

There have been plenty of true freshmen that have been recruited by Bret Bielema and have come in to contribute right away. Running back James White is one of those players, and he has the hype to prove it.

MADISON - To see Wisconsin freshman running back James White is to see him smile.

And laugh.

And sometimes giggle.

That's right. The Florida native, who has done nothing but impress with his maturity since reaching the Badgers fall camp in August, is prone to the occasional fit of high pitched laughter. So of course, Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema dubbed him with the fitting and original nickname of "Giggles."

"He has called me it a couple of times," White said. "I used to get ‘Smiley' when I was younger.

"I always just try and keep a positive attitude, keep a smile on my face. It keeps me going, knowing that I can make it through if I can smile."

If White continues to fulfill the high expectations he has built with his initial impression on coaches and teammates, the rest of the Badgers roster and staff will share the ear-to-ear grin that has marked White early on in his time at Madison.

Although just a true freshman — and the rare impact rookie who didn't enroll a semester early — White has already forced his way into the running back rotation and as a special teams return man by virtue of his un-freshman like play. Any Youtube recruiting clip would show off White's obvious natural running ability. But it is White's pass protection ability that has impressed running backs coach John Settle the most so far.

"He is a guy that we can leave on the field all three downs," Settle said. "He understands exactly what we are doing."

In fact, Settle believes White is more advanced at this stage then now-sophomore running back Montee Ball was last season. Seeing as Ball finished the season at No. 2 on the depth chart, behind Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year John Clay, and with an impressive performance in the Champ Sports Bowl, it is not much of a stretch to say no team in the Big Ten can match the Badgers running corp.

With the 255 lb. Clay acting as a battering ram and the 198 lb. White providing an, ahem, different style, it doesn't take much prompting to get Settle's eyes to light up about the potential headaches defensive coordinator's are in for when game planning the UW ground attack.

"That is your prototypical thunder and lightning," Settle said of Clay and White.

"The thing we like about James is that every time he touches the football, he has a chance to go. It doesn't take him long to get to top end speed."

With Clay hampered by ankle pains last season, the Badgers received a steady diet of 10-15 yard runs from the All-Big Ten back, but only one notable breakaway — a 72-yard gallop in the beginning of the season against Fresno State.

That number figures to increase.

"James has got a nice burst," Bielema said. "I called his high school coach and told him that his guy put on a show. It really popped out when we went full pads. He really has the ability to tempo the ball and has a really nice burst, the ability to get out after it after he makes that cut.

"We some big plays last year but not many make-you-miss things. If you got a guy that can make a move and get some extra yards, that's big."

And put a smile on your face.

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