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Jenni Carlson: NFL or bust for OU quarterbacks
By Jenni Carlson Oklahoman
Published: May 18, 2010
NORMAN — Sam Bradford spent Monday preparing for the St. Louis Rams first offseason workout combining rookies like him with veterans.
Jason White spent the day playing golf.
The former Oklahoma quarterbacks have vastly different lives. Bradford is the overall No. 1 draft pick who is carrying the hopes of a franchise on his shoulders, one of which is surgically repaired. White is a husband, a father, a businessman and the headliner for the Oklahoma Heisman Swing for Hope Charity Golf Classic.
Bradford looks poised to achieve what White and every other Sooner quarterback in recent history failed to do — make it big in the NFL.
White couldn’t be happier for him or prouder of him.
"You look at it as this is a guy who was raised in Oklahoma just like me,” White said before the Oklahoma Brain Tumor Foundation’s annual fund-raiser started Monday afternoon at Belmar Golf Club. "We have a lot of the same interests and stuff.”
Both lived crimson-and-cream boyhood dreams.
Both won a Heisman Trophy and Sooner hearts.
But where the NFL is concerned, their stories are vastly different. Bradford could be under center for the Rams when the season begins. White went undrafted and never played a snap in the NFL.
"I know for a fact it was,” White said.
Back in the spring of 2005, Tennessee offered to sign White to a two-year contract if he could make the roster as an undrafted free agent. He spent three months with the Titans, going through drills, sitting through meetings and learning their system.
"You have everything you need,” White remembers Titans coach Jeff Fisher telling him. "You can throw the deep route. You can throw the deep out. You know the terminology.”
The only thing White didn’t have was a good knee. Both of his had been surgically repaired in college after anterior cruciate ligament tears.
"Are you going to make it another two weeks?” Fisher said to White. "Are you going to make it two years?”
Past injuries derailed White’s NFL hopes before they got on track.
Which is why no one’s heart sank any lower that White’s when Bradford crashed to the turf and injured that AC joint last fall.
"When someone gets hurt, especially when they made a huge commitment to come back and play when they could’ve been playing in the NFL,” White said, "that always bothers you.”
White knew the disappointment of a season cut short by injury. He knew the dread of a future wrought with uncertainty. But as much as anything, White knew the thin line between playing on fall Sundays and watching from the couch.
No one felt Bradford’s pain quite like White.
Maybe that’s why no one feels more joy for Bradford, either.
Even though Slingin’ Sam hasn’t made it just yet, White believes Bradford has what it takes. He can master the wide variations of plays and the massive amounts of terminology. He can handle the appearances and the attention. Sam can balance the expectations and the reality.
Bradford’s biggest challenges will be losing games and getting knocked on his backside.
The Rams earned the No. 1 draft pick, after all.
"He’s going to take some shots this year,” White said.
"Out of all of us, Sam has the physical abilities to go with his mental abilities,” White said of recent Sooner signal-callers who’ve fallen short of the NFL.
Ironic, isn’t it, that Bradford’s health drew the most skepticism from NFL types but that his physical ability might end up being what finally pushes a Sooner quarterback over the NFL hump? "I think he’s got a great shot at being very good,” White said. "I think he’s got a bright future in the NFL.”
Re: Jenni Carlson: NFL or bust for OU quarterbacks
Yeah Jason...let's go with health and not the spectacular crash and burns your Oklahoma teams had in the 2003 Big XII Championship and the 2004 and 2005 BCS Title Games as the reason why nobody wanted to take a chance on you.
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