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Dr. Saturday

Doc Five: Greatest college players with quietest NFL careers – No. 2, Jason White

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.

GREATEST COLLEGE PLAYERS WITH QUIETEST NFL CAREERS

NO. 2, JASON WHITE

Oklahoma quarterback Jason White came very, very close to winning two Heisman Trophies. Just think about how we'd recall him differently if he pulled that off.

White won a Heisman Trophy in 2003. On Nov. 23, 2004, only a few weeks before the trophy was awarded, White held the lead over USC quarterback Matt Leinart in a Scripps-Howard straw poll, as we can see via HeismanPundit.com's archives. HeismanPundit.com was convinced that if Leinart had a poor final regular-season game, the trophy was going to White. Well, Leinart threw for 400 yards and five touchdowns against Notre Dame that week, and that was that. Leinart won the Heisman, White ended up finishing third behind Leinart and teammate Adrian Peterson, though he had more first-place votes than Peterson. He also had just 90 fewer first-place votes than Leinart, despite Leinart's eruption against the Irish.

So if the straw polls were accurate, and you assume that Leinart's late push took more votes away from White than Peterson, with one bad performance by Leinart against Notre Dame White would have joined Archie Griffin as the only two-time Heisman winners. And again, imagine how we would view White now, and decades from now.

Instead, we've pretty much forgotten how great White's career was, in large part because he never had a NFL career.

White's knees were shot by the time he got to training camp as an undrafted free agent with the Tennessee Titans. He dealt with knee problems in college that stretched his career at Oklahoma out to six years. He played through many injuries with the Sooners, including two bad knees. He was undeniably tough, but by the time he got to the Titans, he couldn't move well enough to make it in the NFL. He knew, and retired.

Since then, White's college career has faded from memory a bit. Athlon did a list of top quarterbacks in the BCS era. White was 42nd, behind guys like Todd Reesing and Geno Smith. Yeah. Now, putting White at No. 42 is a bit ridiculous by any standard and you can choose to ignore it, but it shows how the perception of White has dimmed. And again, had Leinart had one off night at the end of the 2004 season, White would be forever fondly remembered as the first quarterback to win two Heisman Trophies and as an all-time great. Also, his career probably would have lingered longer in our minds had he played in the NFL after college instead of running an apparel store in Oklahoma City.

White was Oklahoma's full-time starter for two seasons, and he threw for 7,051 yards, 75 touchdowns and 19 interceptions those two years. The Sooners went 24-3 those two seasons, and played in two BCS Championship Games. Unfortunately for White's legacy, he didn't play well in either game against LSU or USC and Oklahoma lost both.

White was a great college player. He started two seasons and came thisclose to winning two Heisman Trophies. He just had the misfortune of having a couple bad knees that prevented him from a NFL career.

Previously on "Doc Five"
5. Pat Fitzgerald
4. Ken Dorsey
3. Rashaan Salaam
1. Tim Tebow

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