Colts Rookie Free Agent Blair White Succeeds After "Walking On" Again
INDIANAPOLIS – Blair White said his approach won't change.
Because while White, the Colts' rookie free agent wide receiver, may or may not play a more prominent role in the Indianapolis offense in the next few weeks, he said he has played such a role previously.
And whatever his role, what he does during a week is pretty much the same.
He practices. He prepares. He focuses.
And if he plays an extensive role, White says . . .
Well, he said, if that happens so much the better.
"I've been going into practice every week with the mindset of, 'I'm going to play, and I'm going to start,'' White said this week as the Colts (4-2) began preparing to play the Houston Texans (4-2) in a key midseason AFC South game at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Monday at 8:30 p.m.
"If it happens, then I'm ready for it."
Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said there's little reason to think White wouldn't be ready.
"I think probably the best thing to look at is past history," Caldwell said.
White, who originally walked on at Michigan State, signed with the Colts as a free agent shortly after the 2010 NFL Draft. He impressed personnel officials and coaches during training camp and preseason, but was released shortly after preseason and signed to the Colts' practice squad.
He signed to the active roster two weeks later and has played each game since.
"I just kept my head down and just kept going, not worrying about too many things," White said. "It's tough at times, but it's tough for everyone. Peyton Manning, a first pick overall (in the 1998 NFL Draft), he's got times like that, too. Everyone just keeps fighting and in the end, it works out."
White, a two-year starter at Michigan State, has caught six passes for 66 yards in four games, and in his most extensive playing time of the season, he caught three passes for 27 yards and a touchdown in a 27-13 Week 3 victory at Denver.
He also caught 12 passes for 181 yards in the preseason.
"He had an opunity to play in the Denver game and played a fairly significant amount," Caldwell said. "I think he was able to go in and show that he is capable, and he has gotten better since that time. We anticipate that his learning curve has continued to increase and that whoever is in there will be able to measure up and play and play well."
Said White, "Every time you play, you get a little more confidence. That's important in this league, and in any profession, past success gives you confidence. When you have confidence, it's that much easier."
For White to play well after having to make a roster isn't new, exactly.
In fact, he did essentially the same thing in college.
But White not only walked on at Michigan State, at one point it appeared he wouldn't get the opportunity to continue doing so.
He played special teams for the Spartans in 2006, but sustained a back injury and was not initially invited to training camp in 2007. According to media reports, he "camped out" at Michigan State Head Coach Mark Dantonio's office to convince him to give him another chance.
Shortly before the 2008 season, Dantonio awarded White a scholarship.
"There are a number of guys on our team that have actually gone on that process," Caldwell said. "I do think it has a lot to do with their determination and will and willingness to take a bit of a chance, to have to face some hardships and some difficulty and be able to function within that realm.
"I think all those things do indeed help. Oftentimes, the struggle during the journey is what really makes a difference in terms of the development of the person. I think in his particular case it has helped him a bit."
White, who lettered four seasons at Michigan State, started his final two seasons, starting 18 of 40 career games. He finished his career with 116 receptions for 1,674 yards and 10 touchdowns, starting 13 games and leading the team with 70 receptions for 990 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior.
"I think it's a similar experience, being undrafted and not being given much of a chance by friends, family – whoever it may be," White said. "You just use those experiences of the past to help you keep going. It's just like life: There are things that set you back, but you keep going."
White, asked if the experience of walking on at Michigan State made him stronger, said, "I think absolutely it does."
"It's just like anything in life, when you have a setback or you have people who don't think you can do it, you push that much harder to get through it," White said. "It helps you in the long run."
And White said while it's possible his role will increase again this week in the wake of an injury to wide receiver Austin Collie, worrying about whether that will be case or not is pointless. His approach, he said, is his approach, and he won't change it just because his circumstance might be different.
"I'm sure it's possible," White said. "I don't really know. I'll find out this week. It's really not anything too crazy I don't think. It will be business as usual, and if I get more balls, so be it.
"I don't think it affects me very much. It might as far as the game, but as far as going out and practicing, it's the same for me. I'm going to go out and do what I do every week."