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White in the spotlight

WVU QB

August 22, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - There are no power meters or remote buttons needed to control Patrick White.

The West Virginia University quarterback has his switch cemented in the "On" position.

When you are running a powerful offense on a team that has been selected to be in the mix for a national championship, you don't have any choice but to be ready to roll.

"Can you be ready too quickly?" White asked rhetorically. "What's too quick? I've been ready all summer."

White finds himself sitting in the middle of a competitive stew, with a wide range of goals, expectations and projections making up the ingredients.

First, WVU has been established as a top preseason team - third in the Associated Press poll, sixth by USA Today. The pollsters look at the Mountaineers as a team within a couple snaps of playing in the national championship game in early January.

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Part of the reason everyone is so high on the Mountaineers is White himself. He went from being a part-time quarterback as a freshman to bursting on the scene and taking the WVU offense to the next level. He teamed with tailback Steve Slaton to give WVU one of the most productive offenses in the nation while becoming the Big East offensive player of the year.

Because of all of it - the 2,900 yards of offense he provided running and throwing last season, with 17 rushing and 13 passing touchdowns - White will be called on to deliver even more this season.

White can't afford to not be ready for the Mountaineers. That makes training camp and practices a mere formality on the way to game day. And practice brings problems that need attending to, the biggest being his personal health and the receiving corps.

"My Achilles is a little tight and my groin is sore, but other than that, it's good," White said.

Who White will be throwing to is a work in progress. The WVU spent early practices experimenting and moving people to different positions.

Martinsburg graduate Nate Sowers moved from quarterback to slot receiver. Fullback Owen Schmitt is taking time to learn the tight end position. So is Adam Bednarik, who shared quarterbacking duties with White two years ago before he was injured and missed last season.

It is all an effort to give White more targets than just Darius Reynaud, who is the only significant pass-catching returnee for WVU's wide-open, spread-style offense.

"You have a lot of ups and downs," White said. "(Receiver) is the hardest position out there because they run constantly and their legs get dead, but I'm seeing some things and it's good."

Everything builds to the high expectations West Virginia fans have for their Mountaineers. WVU was considered a threat to win the national title in each of the last two seasons but ended up finishing fifth and 10th in the AP poll.

With Slaton and White entering their junior seasons together after combining for nearly 3,000 yards rushing and 34 TDs last season, the sights are set even higher.

"The goal is to finish as the best in college football," White said. "We have to take one game at a time. At this level, every game is a playoff game. If you don't show up in just one game, it's the season."

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