NFL Draft 2014: James White looks to future after stellar career at Wisconsin

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

After a strong senior season in which he rushed for over 1,400 yards, the former Badgers running back looks to make an even greater impact on an NFL field this fall.

For former Wisconsin running back James White, his four years in Madison seemed to pass by quickly. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native never redshirted, but as the old saying goes, "time flies when you're having fun." And a fun (and record-setting) career he did have.

Despite splitting carries the majority of his time at Wisconsin with John Clay, Montee Ball and most recently Melvin Gordon, White accumulated 4,015 rushing yards, fourth-most in school history. Both Gordon and White set the FBS single-season record for rushing yards by a running back tandem, combining for 3,053 yards in 2013. White ranks third all-time in Wisconsin history in rushing and total touchdowns with 45 and 48, respectively. He's also fourth all-time in all-purpose yards (5,450).

All this, while starting only 14 games in his four-year career.

Now, White looks to prove himself at the next level of competition in the NFL.

After racking up 107 yards on 12 carries in his final collegiate game in the Capital One Bowl, White went to work on his draft preparation. He trained at Pete Bommarito's Bommarito Performance Systems in Miami, Fla., close to his hometown and a familiar setting where many of his high school friends work out.

Like other former UW teammates Chris Borland, Jared Abbrederis, Jacob Pedersen and Dezmen Southward, he was invited to Mobile, Ala., in late January for weeklong Senior Bowl practices. With a solid week of practice, he also performed well in the Senior Bowl itself, gaining 61 yards on 11 carries and scoring the North squad's only touchdown in a 20-10 loss.

A month later, he went to Indianapolis as one of six former Badgers invited to the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. Though he ran the 40-yard dash and three-cone drill among other tests in Indianapolis during one day (Feb. 23), it was a multi-day event for White and other NFL prospects. Meetings with teams involved writing up offensive plays and answering a wide variety of questions. White admitted the mental aspect can be more difficult.

"You just have to stay locked in, and focus on what you're there to do," White said.

He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds and bench pressed 225 pounds 23 times, finishing in the top half of the running backs invited to the combine for both events. During his time there, White also had the opportunity to catch up with former Wisconsin running backs coach Thomas Hammock, who left the Badgers in early February for the same position with the Baltimore Ravens.

"I was extremely happy for him," White said.

"It's an opportunity I knew he couldn't pass up. It's every coach's dream, I'm sure, to get a chance to coach in the NFL, so it's a great opportunity for him."

A little over a week after the combine, White returned to Madison but chose not to run at Wisconsin's pro day on March 5. With NFL personnel looking on, he did perform receiving drills, which he touts as one of his strengths along with his field vision and the ability to make defenders miss in space.

"I'm a guy that I feel that I can do it all," White said.

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