College Days: Reggie White

Each week throughout the 2013 season, Profootballhof.com recaps the college days of a pro football legend.


Reggie White
Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2006

Pro Football Hall of Famer Reggie White is one of the greatest defensive ends in NFL history. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year registered 10 or more sacks in a season 12 times and retired as the career leader in QB takedowns (198). Being recognized as “one of the best ever” was nothing new to White as he excelled at every level of football he played.

Reggie is one of two Hall of Famers to play at Tennessee. Doug Atkins is the other. 
White honed his dominant skills at Howard High School in Chattanooga, Tenn where he lettered three times in football (as a nose tackle and tight end). He also earned three letters in basketball and one in track. As a senior he was an All-American in both football and basketball. His tremendous play earned him much publicity and he was named the nation’s top two-sport athlete (he finished ahead of future NBA great Patrick Ewing).

Many elite college football programs coveted White but he decided to stay close to home and chose to play at the University of Tennessee. It was in Knoxville where he went on to become one of the most decorated Volunteers ever to play on the defensive line. White’s combination of size (6-5, 270 pounds) and speed proved to be lethal against opposing offensive lines and deadly to quarterbacks.

''I've never seen a guy like him,'' Vols coach Johnny Majors later reflected. ''He can do 40 yards in 4.7 seconds.''

White was a three-year starter who logged 32 sacks in his four years with the Vols to establish himself as the most prolific pass rusher in Tennessee history. In 1983, the “Minister of Defense” had a career-high 15 sacks with a single-game high of four during a commanding 45-6 win over The Citadel. All three marks remain Tennessee records today.

Those senior year numbers allowed White to pull in a mantel full of awards. He was a consensus All-American, the Southeast Conference’s Player of the Year, and was a finalist for the Lombardi Award given annually to the nation’s outstanding college lineman.  Volunteers’ assistant coach Phillip Fulmer anointed White’s senior campaign as the “most individually dominant season I’ve ever seen.”

White capped his collegiate career with all-star appearances in the Hula Bowl and Japan Bowl, which he was named MVP. In all he helped the Vols to three Bowl games. White and his teammates played in the 1981 Garden State Bowl, the ’82 Peach Bowl, and the 1983 Citrus Bowl.

After his college playing days were over, White immediately jumped to the ill-fated United States Football League which operated in the spring. He played two years with the Memphis Showboats (1984-85) and racked up 23.5 sacks, one safety and one fumble recovery for a TD. After the league folded he joined the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4 of the 1985 season as a supplemental draft pick. He would go on to lead the Eagles with 13 sacks and was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Reggie’s HOF Bio>>>

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