August 17, 1998
TURLOCK - When Josh White arrived at Cal last summer, he had a lot on his mind. Not only was he attending a new school, but he also had to introduce himself to a new set of teammates and coaches and worry about the responsibilities of impending fatherhood.
After one season at Snow Junior College in Utah where he led the team to a 10-1 record while carrying the ball 142 times for 619 yards and nine touchdowns, White was a late addition to Cal's 1997 recruiting class, signing with the Bears in late June. Less than two months later, he emerged has a key performer in Cal's training camp, showing an ability to be a tough inside runner. White then got his career off to a great start when he paced the Bears with 48 rushing yards, including a touchdown, in the season opener at Houston.
However, while White was in school in Berkeley, his wife, Ginger, was back in their home state of Hawaii expecting the couple's first child. During Cal's bye week in mid-September, he flew back to Honolulu to await delivery. But White had to return to campus before he became a father, as his daughter, Imani, was not born until Sept. 24.
"I did have some distractions and couldn't focus as much as I wanted to," White admitted.
But this season, White seems to have quite a bit more energy into football. Not only does he feel more at ease with Cal's system, but his family is also with him in Berkeley.
"I know what to expect from myself and what the coaches expect from me," White said. "I now have experience playing in games, and that is a big difference. I feel a lot more comfortable and believe I can contribute more to the team than I did last year."
White did finish his first season with 180 yards and three touchdowns. Besides the Houston game, his best outings came at UCLA, when he rushed 10 times for 39 yards, and at Arizona, when he finished with 41 yards on 10 carries.
But now, as one of the veterans in the backfield, White believes he can be much more of a leader this season. He stayed in Berkeley over the summer and worked with strength and conditioning coach Todd Rice to be better prepared for 1998.
"I wanted to get into better shape so I could come out here and perform better," White said. "I feel like I still have some work to do, but I'm in much better condition than when I came in last year.
"I also feel I can say a little bit more this year," the 5-11, 255-pound junior added. "Last year, I didn't know what to expect. I just wanted to contribute and do my part. I didn't want to take that leadership role because I was a new player."
Running backs coach Ron Gould has also seen the improvement in White, noting that the Bears expect to utilize him more this season.
"He can be a force with the ball," Gould said. "We'll try to get the ball in his hands and get him into the open field against defensive backs. We've designed plays for him to use his 255 pounds to run over people. He's become an intricate part of our offense."
Through the first five days of training camp, White has been performing up to expectations, running hard up the middle and catching swing passes out of the backfield. After all the distractions in 1997, a much more focused White should be a big presence in 1998.