Nov. 21, 2012
By Phil Zielinski, Michigan State Athletic Communications Student Assistant
When grades prevented Anthony Rashad White from playing at a Division I college after high school, he could have just given up football all together.
Instead, he took the long road, showcasing a type of perseverance that is a true embodiment of the Michigan State football team.
"I thought that the opportunity wasn't going anywhere; it was there, and it was for a reason," White said. "Just trying to get here, going from high school, to prep school, to junior college. I don't think most people would have stuck around for any of that."
White played high school football at Battle Creek Central with his current teammate, running back Larry Caper. While Caper went straight from high school to Michigan State, White enrolled at a prep school in Cincinnati called Harmony to bring up his grades. He then played two years at Fort Scott, a junior college in Kansas, until he eventually ended up back in his home state at MSU.
"It was a great opportunity for me to come back home," White said. "My mom was so excited and my family was excited."
Without strong support from his family, White may not have ever ended up where he is now, playing football at Michigan State.
"My family has pushed for me very hard ever since I was at Battle Creek Central," White said. "My dad always wanted me to get up and exercise, and I would tell him no - I was tired. We would still get up and work out. It's pretty fun just to be able to get here and say I'm glad I worked hard."
Despite growing up in Michigan, as a kid White didn't have an allegiance to either the Spartans or the Wolverines; in fact, he often showed support for both.
"I was just back at home and I saw a picture from when I was younger and I had a Michigan State hoodie on with a Michigan jacket, and Michigan State gloves with a
Michigan hat," he said.
White's loyalty is clear now, having been an integral part of the Spartan defense in all three of his seasons at Michigan State. Those three years have been as exciting for him as they come, having included back-to-back, school-record 11-win seasons, a Big Ten Championship, and the first bowl win for the Spartans since 2001.
"It's been great. You don't get chances like this, opportunities that come around like this very often," White said.
White didn't just play in last year's Outback Bowl, he tied for the team lead in tackles with seven and posted a career-high three tackles for loss. And he will forever be remembered in Spartan history for blocking Georgia's field goal in the third overtime, which secured the dramatic victory for MSU.
"I was just happy that we could get the bowl win for Coach D and the seniors," he said. "I remember Kirk [Cousins] came up to me and said thank you. So it was pretty cool."
The bowl win was not only the first for the 2011 senior class, but for head coach Mark Dantonio as well. White and Dantonio have grown close over the past three years, even sharing inside jokes at practice.
"I think me and Coach D have a good relationship," White said. "It's funny, sometimes we mess around before practice and we'll do some `Malcolm in the Middle' hand gestures. He can get very serious, and then he'll turn around and joke with you."
For Dantonio and White, legendary plays have become almost commonplace since White got to Michigan State, with a highlight reel ranging from last second Hail Mary's to game-winning trick plays.
"My favorite moments I have to say would be the Hail Mary for one; that was a great play against Wisconsin," White said. "Another one was the Notre Dame game with (Aaron) Bates throwing the touchdown pass to Charlie (Gantt). That was my first year here, so that was really exciting."
White hopes to continue his already decorated football career to the NFL, following in the footsteps of last year's second-round draft pick Jerel Worthy, another standout MSU defensive tackle. If the NFL doesn't work out, White has a back up plan.
"I would like to hopefully go on to the next level and have an opportunity there; but if I don't, I would also like to work in broadcasting too," White said.
As White prepares to take the field for his last game ever in Spartan Stadium on Senior Day, he offers a piece of advice to his teammates and fellow Spartans.
"Enjoy it while you can because it comes quick," he said. "Last year I felt like I had another year but that year came very quick. It's exciting to be able to take that step to the next level, but at the same time, I will miss it here."
This feature was originally published in the Nov. 17 edition of Michigan State Football Gameday Magazine.