Jason White landed in south Florida. He saw the palm trees. And the beach. And the girls. And Coral Gables, the pristine suburb that houses the University of Miami.
And he thought, this is the place for me. Remember the Jason White tale the next time you think the Miami Hurricanes are down for the count in college football’s hierarchy. Ever since Howard Schnellenberger got Miami serious about the gridiron, ballplayers have felt the siren song of the U. A country boy from Tuttle, America, is a chief witness. "The atmosphere was unbelievable,” White said of his Miami visit almost 10 years ago, in December 1998. You now know well the White story. Signed with Oklahoma. Youthful hero against Texas. Suffered two devastating knee injuries yet persevered to win a Heisman Trophy and darn near another. A quarterback legend in Soonerville. Yet it almost never happened, thanks to the gravitational pull from Miami. Lee Coker, the brother of then-Miami offensive coordinator Larry Coker, was Tuttle’s superintendent. Lee Coker supplied his brother with Tuttle tapes, and Larry Coker liked what he saw. And White most definitely liked what he saw when he visited Miami. "Seemed like a dream come true to go play at a place like that,” White said. White took that visit to Miami with his father, Ron. It was White’s first airplane ride. "I remember being nervous,” White said. "My dad went with me, so I tried to play tough.” White’s most exotic travels before Miami had been family trips to Texas and Missouri. "Getting to go down there was amazing,” White said. "Took us like 10 minutes to get to the beach. The program, the facilities, were awesome.” White hung out with Edgerrin James and heard all about the legendary fraternity of Miami football players. He toured South Beach. Ate dinner at Joe’s Stone Crab, Barry Switzer’s favorite restaurant in the world. If you’ve been to south Florida, you know the romance of which White speaks.