In 2003, Jason White became the fourth of Oklahoma's eventual five Heisman winners. He came to Oklahoma in 1999 and was a backup on the 2000 national championship team.
Torn ACLs abbreviated his 2001 and 2002 seasons, but in 2003, he led the Sooners back to the national title game and collected the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's top quarterback. He was granted a medical hardship and a sixth year on campus in 2004, and led Oklahoma to the national title game again. He finished third in the Heisman voting behind Matt Leinart and his teammate, Adrian Peterson. He won the Maxwell Award and became just the third quarterback ever to win the Davey O'Brien Award in consecutive seasons.
Those knee injuries prevented him from being drafted, and he briefly signed as an undrafted free agent with the Tennessee Titans before retiring from football.
Today, with our "Simply Saturday" series, we begin our look at the top 50 players best known for their accomplishments in the college game, and for whatever reason, didn't go on to prolific professional careers.
White comes in at No. 45 on the list.
So, what are you doing these days?
Jason White: I own and operate my store, "Jason White's A Store Divided," with OU and OSU hats, shirts, knick-knacks, all that stuff.
Also, I own and operate Jason White's Corporate Apparel, and we sell logo shirts, hats and all that kind of stuff.
How did this all start?
I did a couple other things before I started this, but I quickly figured out I wanted to work for myself, so this opportunity came about to actually own my own shoe store, and I kind of looked at it, and jumped on board with that. It just kind of grew from that first shoe store to doing OU and OSU apparel and grew from there.
What made you realize you wanted to work for yourself?
My dad, he owned his own company, and I've always kind of seen him get to make the decisions, and decide how things get done. And I've always just kind of liked that. I think that's what was really appealing to me, is I get to make the decisions, and it kind of keeps me close to that competitive nature, too. I can be competitive and I need to call the shots on how competitive we want to be.
What's life like for you now?
Great. I've got two kids. An 8-year-old daughter, Tinley, and a 4-year-old son, Tandon. I've got a wonderful wife, Tammy, and we live in Tuttle [Okla.], and of course the kids are getting into sports now, and I don't have a lot of time on my hands like I used to. So, I'm just enjoying raising kids and enjoying the family and every now and then, try and go do something fun.
What did you learn about yourself at Oklahoma that carries over into today?
Just the never-give-up attitude. I really think that's carried over since my playing days, and knowing that there's not a lot of obstacles that can be put in front of you that can stop you if you really want it. It's just like with the stores. There have been times where you're really wondering, "How are we going to make it to the next month?"
And that's a lot like when I was playing football and I'd have this injury or this injury and be like, "How am I going to make it through this injury?"
It's the same in the business world. You're going to have your down times to where you're scrambling, and I learned in my playing days at OU, just never give up and continue to work hard and eventually you'll achieve the goals you set out to do.
When you think back to your time at OU, what comes to mind first?
The tradition. Walking down the halls, I can remember the first day I was there. I remember walking down the halls and looking at all the pictures of the players who played there and all the bowl championships and Big 12, Big 8 championships, all those championships and thinking, "Wow, to be a part of this is unbelievable." But for my name to be up there on that wall, too, is surreal. That really sticks out the most for me.
As for what sticks out from my playing days, just the time and effort that our teams put into it. There were lots of times when we'd go out without the coaches and we did it as a team and we wanted to get better. We put a lot of time and effort into it, and a lot of times people ask me "What do you remember the most about college football?" and it's really just how much hard work gets put into it. I don't think a lot of fans know exactly what a student-athlete has to do. So I try to explain to them, but until you do it, I don't think people would ever understand.
When you'd go do stuff on your own, outside of summer workouts when coaches are banned from being there, what are some examples of the team working without the coaches?
From the football aspect, there would be a lot of times during the season that maybe the receivers just weren't catching the ball well, or they wanted to work on routes, we'd go up [to the practice field] early during the week and play catch and stuff, or if we felt like we didn't have a good week of practice, as a team we'd split up and watch film. Somebody in the quarterback room would take charge, or somebody in the receivers room would take charge and we'd go watch more film. Stuff like that, that we put a lot of time into and we did it on our own. It wasn't one of those deals where you had to be there. But most of the time, most of the starters showed up, and everybody else, it's just like 7-on-7. You don't have to go if you don't want to, but our team was different in that we knew we needed to do that to compete.
Where's your Heisman?
It's actually in my office at my home. I actually built a trophy case for all that, for all the awards I was a part of. It's actually a pretty neat conversation piece. I do a lot of meetings at the house with different people, and they'll talk about the trophy case more than they want to talk about why they came to the house.
How much attention do you still pay to the program?
I still pay a lot of attention to it. It'll always be very close to me. If things were different for me, as far as, I had a daughter at a young age, and I feel like if my daughter wasn't born when I was in college, I really feel like I would have tried to coach at OU and things like that, but it just didn't fit into my plan to coach.
So, I decided to do something different, but I'll always follow it. And I follow not just OU, I follow college football, because it's something I'm interested in and enjoy watching and enjoyed doing.
If a player coming to campus this fall asked you how to get the most out of their college experience, what would you tell him?
One thing I was kind of surprised by is, as I said earlier, the amount of time that's put into college athletics. When I first started at OU my first year, I can tell you I didn't put in that time and effort. Coming from high school, we didn't put that kind of time in it.
The best advice I can give someone going into college is to jump on board with somebody that's been there for a few years, and figure out what they do on their own for extra work and stuff. Basically, just remember that somebody's always out there working harder than you, so work as hard as you can to get on the field or remain on the field or whatever the situation is. I just don't think that high school kids realize the time and the effort that is put into playing football, and so a lot of athletes are shocked when they get there and they've got to work out every day of the week, and they've got to go to study hall, and they've got to take these tests and that's the biggest shock for a lot of athletes, the time and the effort. Not only with football, but with school, too.
I think once you get that and you get your time management down, the rest is a breeze and you can enjoy your experience.