Oct. 2, 2010
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Lorenzo White is the most accomplished running back in the rich history of Michigan State football, ranking first in the school record books in rushing yards (4,887), rushing attempts (1,082), rushing touchdowns (43) and 100-yard games (23).
The two-time first-team All-American (1985, 1987) finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting in both of those seasons. His 4,887 rushing yards ranked second in Big Ten history following his departure from East Lansing and still rank fifth all-time in league history. He was recently named the No. 1 running back in the Big Ten in the 1980s by the Big Ten Network.
As a sophomore in 1985, White rushed for a school record and then-Big Ten record 2,066 yards. His 1,908 yards during the regular season at the time was the fourth-best single-season rushing total in the history of college football and the highest by a sophomore. He rushed for 200 or more yards on four occasions, including a 286-yard effort against Indiana.
During the 1987 season, White helped MSU to its first Rose Bowl since 1966 by rushing for 1,572 yards. His 132.6 rushing yards per game during the regular season ranked No. 6 nationally. In the Rose Bowl win over USC, White ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
"The rewards and the accolades are always good, but when you come to Michigan State, it's like family," said White on the day of his induction into the Hall of Fame.
"Winning the Big Ten and Rose Bowl was one of the things Coach (George) Perles set out to do," White said. "He made sure he had a close knit family. In 1987, with us coming in 1983 and '84, and it was just building and building, and that family got tighter and tighter. We got a Rose Bowl."
Along the way to the Rose Bowl, White rushed for 100-plus yards seven times in 1987.
His most remarkable performance fittingly came in his last home game at Spartan Stadium with the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth on the line against No. 16 Indiana. He established a school record for attempts in a game with 56 against Indiana - one shy of the NCAA record - while finishing with a career-high 292 yards on the ground, which is the second-highest total by a Spartan. His dominating showing led MSU to a 27-3 victory over the Hoosiers to clinch the Big Ten Championship.
White said the buildup to the game against Indiana was his favorite week as a Spartan.
"The Rose Bowl game was a big game in itself, but that game against Indiana, being here in Spartan Stadium...I'm talking about that whole week, fans, everywhere you go in the store, at the gas station, at the bus stop, leading up until that (game), that was more exciting than actually the Rose Bowl in itself," he said. "The adrenaline was pumping - I didn't think it ever went that long, getting ready to play for that Rose Bowl game at night against Indiana. Just to see everyone storm that field, I turned around, and could not believe it. I was tired, but I was like, `wow'. Just what took place, just (getting) that win."
White is perhaps known most for his endurance he displayed throughout his career. He carried the ball 1,082 times while wearing the Green and White, which set a Big Ten record at the time and is still third most in conference history. His 419 attempts in 1985 still stands as the most in a Big Ten single-season.
"When you're young, you don't even think about what's going on," said White, regarding his workload in the backfield. "I just wanted to run the ball. That was my focus, in the offseason, make sure I was staying in shape so I could do that."
White will now be forever commemorated for his legendary Spartan career with a plaque in the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame.
"The rewards and the accolades are always good, but when you come here, it's like family," said White on the day of his induction into the Hall of Fame. "When you walk through these halls, walk through these rooms, and you see all these faces like Bubba Smith and George Webster and Billy Joe DuPree, you think, wow, one day. To get put in that class is very special."