We have begun our preseason countdown of the top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2013 campaign. This list is based on past performance and potential for the upcoming season only. We do not consider NFL potential for purposes of these rankings.
Coming up next is a guy with a lot of career yards and a chance for more opportunities this year ...
No. 23: James White, RB, Wisconsin senior, 5-foot-10, 197 pounds
2012 postseason ranking: Not ranked
2012 numbers: Had 125 carries for 806 yards (averaging 6.4 ypc) and 12 touchdowns. Also caught six passes for 127 yards and a touchdown and threw a touchdown pass.
Why he's here: Having James White as your backup is like having Meryl Streep be an understudy. Yet that's just the luxury Wisconsin enjoyed the past two years, as Montee Ball broke all kinds of records and White did the most he could with limited opportunities.
Even while Ball was doing ludicrous things, White ran for more than 1,500 yards and 18 scores the past two seasons. In 2012, the Badgers started using him at quarterback in their "Barge" formation to great effect; he memorably scored four touchdowns in the Big Ten title game against Nebraska by running for 119 yards on just 15 carries and passing for his first career touchdown.
Ball is off to the NFL, which means White's workload could be about to go up. He enters his senior year with 2,571 career rushing yards and a 1,000-yard season under his belt (1,052 as a freshman). Whether he becomes Wisconsin's go-to back in 2013 or if sophomore sensation Melvin Gordon assumes that role remains to be seen. What we do know is that the Badgers will find ways to get the ball into White's hands this year. And he has proved that good things happen when he gets that chance.