Sept. 20, 2000
By Carolyn French
UCLA Sports Information
Senior Tony White has been a presence in the Bruin defense ever since his first year on campus. A three-year starter, White has been a leader on and off the field. As a sophomore, he was named captain for the Stanford game, and was captain for the Alabama game last week. The 6-1, 245 pound El Paso, TX, native has made the transition from inside to outside linebacker this season, and hopes to lead the Bruins back to the Rose Bowl and Pac-10 dominance.
How did you get to UCLA?
[Former Assistant] Coach Rocky Long was down in Texas recruiting Ed [Ieremia] Stansbury at first, and then went to talk to Ed's coaches, and somehow I came up in the conversation. He went to my high school, talked to my coaches, watched film on me and saw that I was pretty good. I had already committed to Oklahoma State and I told them I was going to take a trip to UCLA. Oklahoma State told me that if I went to visit UCLA, there was no guarantee that my scholarship would still be there. I called Coach Toledo and told him that I couldn't risk that. Five minutes later he called to tell me that I had a scholarship.
What do you think your role on the defense is?
I see myself as one of those people who isn't very "rah-rah," but I just try to go out there and get the job done. I try to make everyone around me feel confident that they can trust that I'm going to get my job done to the best of my ability. I want them to look at me and say that I'm leading by example. I'm not one of those guys who just talks the talk.
What is it like having the same defensive coordinator two years in a row for the first time in your UCLA career?
The whole attitude changes. It's a lot easier to pick up where you left off instead of starting over and over and over again. We're further along than we've ever been, as far as knowing how the defense works with coverages, fills. Last year, we were still trying to make and learn the adjustments at the start of the season. This year we got done with that weeks before the season started. We are that much further ahead. And it does more mentally. In the summertime we were playing seven-on-seven, we averaged 70 guys here. People were out there in seven-on, and people knew what they were doing. We were fine-tuning. It's a whole different attitude about playing and having fun.
What other sports did you play in high school? I played basketball, and did the shot put. I loved track -- the individual nature. You step into the ring against everyone else, they're all watching you. If you mess up, you mess up. I'm not that big, and in high school I used to go up against offensive linemen, defensive linemen who were 6-5, 300 pounds. They used to watch me and think I that I was nothing. Then I'd get in the ring and throw five or six feet further than them.
What is the hardest thing about the transition from high school to college?
The hardest thing is responsibility. In high school, it's always easy to do something when someone is on you. They call in when you're absent, your mom knows, and you're forced to go to school. In college, you're responsible for your own actions, getting up and going to class every day because no one is going to call your mom if you don't go. That's the hardest thing because some people are not self-motivated. There were times during my first year when we had 6 a.m. workouts and we would come back home and it's only 7:30 a.m.. It's still dark and we have the air conditioning going, we still have an hour to class. We would go take a nap and wake up and it's already 2pm. That's the hardest thing. School is school. You're going to have to read, going to take notes, going to take tests. Football is harder, bigger, stronger, faster. You have to push yourself because no one is going to get on you. You have to do it yourself. The older you get, you kind of know that you better start going if you want to do well. If you can do it your first year, then it's easy. If you slack off your first year it becomes worse because you think you can slack off.
What are your plans when you leave UCLA? Maybe being a coach. I couldn't picture my life without football. In New York, I played soccer. Then I went to El Paso and played football. At first, in seventh and eighth grade, I was horrible. I was getting beat up. But from then on, I've loved it. I'll sit in the coaches' offices and watch recruiting tapes, and watch whomever. Something around football would be cool.
Do you see yourself staying in Los Angeles? I had never been to LA before I reported, and my mother, who had lived in New York all of her life, said she would move here to live because it's so beautiful. I would see myself staying here. If I get the chance at the NFL, I wouldn't care. You could send me to Alaska, Antarctica, I would play anywhere, I'm not picky.
What do you think your chances are at playing in the NFL?
If you put it there, you make your chances worse. I know I have a chance. If you play at a good level of football (Pac-10, UCLA), and I've been fortunate enough to start here, coming up on three years, I know I'll get a shot. That's all you can ask for, a shot to play in the NFL. Once you step on the field, it doesn't matter if you're a first-rounder or a 10th rounder, you're there to play football. I just love to play the game. I love hanging out with the guys, I love being in the locker room with the guys, I love being on the field with the guys. That's all I can ask for, just being there.