Running back Austin White breaks family tradition to become a Wolverine
Austin White bucked family tradition when he signed with Michigan over Michigan State as part of the Wolverines’ 2010 recruiting class.
White’s mother and father both graduated from MSU, and his twin brothers, Mitchell and Myles, currently play football for the Spartans.
So why did Austin choose Michigan?
“The best advice I got was go where it feels right because you have to live at that place the next four years, not just go to school there,” White said. “When I came here I just felt it inside. There’s places with great educations and great football programs just like Michigan, but it’s really where you get that extra feeling and that’s where you’re going to be happy at, at least what I feel. And I felt that here and I still do.”
One of seven recruits who enrolled early, White will take part in spring practice next month with an outside chance to replace Brandon Minor as Michigan’s starting running back.
He comes with great credentials - three straight 1,400-yard rushing seasons and 84 career touchdowns as a prep at Livonia Stevenson - and Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said the work ethic to match.
“The thing that stood out probably to me is watching him in camp, how he wanted to take every rep,” Rodriguez said. “He takes a rep at running back, you put him in at slot receiver, he wants to take a rep there. He's always jumping in front of the line, always wanting to prove himself. That type of attitude is kind of contagious.”
White said he envisions himself being a multi-purpose weapon at Michigan, running the ball and catching passes out of the backfield.
“I feel like they use the running back like I like to be used,” White said. “I like to catch passes and run the ball, and I feel like they spread the running back out into the slot. They’ll run him on routes and stuff like that. That’s something I saw and I feel like I could help the team with.”
By staying close to home, White is also helping out his family.
His father, Michael, the principal at Pioneer High School, was called to active duty in the Army Reserves last month, and White said he's been home every weekend since school started to check on his mother, Karen.
“She’s going through a little rough time, too, so it’s nice to be able to go home for a couple hours and go out to eat with her so she doesn’t feel so alone as well,” he said.
Stephen Hopkins update
Stephen Hopkins, the other running back who enrolled early, could get on the field as a true freshman, Rodriguez said.
The 6-foot, 225-pound Hopkins will play a big back role similar to Minor.
“He’s a tough, hard-nosed, downhill runner,” Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus High coach Brian Erwin said. “He’s not going to do a lot of dancing, he’s going to run with a lot of power and a lot of aggression. He likes to bring it down hill.”
Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.