Oct. 16, 2012
By Aimee Dulebohn, Michigan State Athletic Communications Staff Assistant
For cornerback Mitchell White, Michigan State has been a family affair. A son of two Spartan graduates, the Livonia, Mich., native grew up with hopes to one day be able to play in the green and white.
However, he wasn't sure if and how that opportunity would come around for him. A two-sport athlete at Stevenson High School playing football and competing in track and field, White was given the chance to be a preferred walk-on the MSU football team in 2008.
"Both my parents went to MSU, so I've always been a Michigan State fan growing up," White said. "I never thought I would have an opportunity to come here and when it opened up, I just jumped at the bit."
Although redshirted on the team his freshman year, he was able to train in the high jump for Michigan State track and field, ultimately competing at the Big Ten Championships.
"When I came out of high school, I wanted to do two sports," said White. "Just to have that opportunity to do the high jump was real big for me. I gave it a shot and I really appreciate Coach (Walt) Drenth and everybody on the team for giving me that opportunity. I will always appreciate them for that. It was a real fun experience for me."
However, White's role for the Spartans would be different than what he was used to playing. A quarterback for his high school team, White was asked to play cornerback for the Spartans before he was offered a scholarship position in 2010. Although on the opposite side of the ball, White used similarities he found in both positions to help him adapt.
"When you play quarterback, you have a lot of the mental aspect of the game," White said. "You just try to see things before they happen. At cornerback, it's still a mental game, so that wasn't as big of a jump for me. But as a corner, a lot relies on your athleticism and how fast and quick you can process things. But I really enjoy working at it every day."
White has had to put in a lot of work at his position, but took some valuable advice from secondary coach Harlon Barnett to put things into perspective.
"Coach Barnett gave me his definition of discipline," remarked White. "He told me, `Do what you're supposed to do, how you're supposed to do it, when you're supposed to do it, every time.' It made everything so much easier for me."
As grateful as he is to have worked his way up the ranks from a walk-on to a scholarship player, White recognizes the opportunity he has been given at Michigan State and the memories he's been able to make on the team.
"Not only will I graduate from a Big Ten university, but I got to play on a Big Ten Championship team," he said. "That was huge for me because I never won a championship in my entire career since fourth grade. That is definitely the highlight of my career. Not to mention the people I've met have been great. I just think Michigan State is one of the best universities in the country."
With his time at MSU coming to an end, White hopes to use his education and experience from Michigan State to be able to begin a career in pharmaceutical sales.
"I want to go down that avenue and see where that takes me," said White. "It seems pretty promising when you put the work into it. I feel like it would be a good atmosphere; leaving the competitive atmosphere of football and going right into something else that's really competitive is tailor-made for me."
Now a three-year letterwinner for the Spartans, White has been able to live out his dreams as a member of the MSU football team over the past five years.
"It's been a dream come true," White said. "You can ask anyone in my family and they will tell you that I've always wanted to play for Michigan State. Every Saturday I would watch MSU play and then go outside and pretend I was playing for the Spartans. I've actually had the chance to live my dreams and I wish everybody could do the same."
This feature was originally published in the Oct. 13 edition of Michigan State Football Gameday Magazine.