Patriots football journey: James White

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots rookie running back James White has had to be patient over parts of his football career, so the 2014 season isn’t anything new for him.

White wasn’t a full-time starter at Wisconsin until his senior year. At St. Thomas Aquina High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, White was teammates with several highly touted players who would later go on to the NFL, such as Bengals running back Giovani Bernard.

"It was great, playing the same position, competing with each other and making each other better. We’d hang out off the field, too," White said, adding that one game against Byrnes (S.C.) High School drew as many as 15,000 fans.

As a Patriots rookie, White has mostly been learning behind the scenes this season. He has played in one of the team’s first seven games -- Sept. 29 at Kansas City, in a limited role.

The 22-year-old White shares his "football journey" as part of our weekly feature:

When he first started playing football: "When I was 7 or 8 years old. My dad and my brother played football. Pretty much all the men in my family played football, and I looked up to them. We’d play football in the yard and I was always running routes and active."

Favorite teams and players growing up: "I was always an Eagles fan. Brian Westbrook was my favorite running back. He could do it all out there -- a receiving back, a guy who could run inside, who could run outside, he’d block."

Role models in his life: "My dad [Tyrone White] and my grandfather [James Willis]. My dad is a hard-working guy who helps others, and at the same time he puts his family first. My grandfather is the same way; he’s a guy that is heavily involved in the church and that definitely helped me. He’s like a second father."

More about his parents, Tyrone and Lisa: "My dad is in law enforcement and my mom is a probation specialist, too. You heard plenty of stories and things of that nature, and I think that definitely helped me stay out of trouble."

Favorite memories at St. Thomas Aquina High School: "We won two state championships. I think that definitely got me prepared for college, which got me prepared for the NFL. It’s a great atmosphere, when two good teams face off, especially two teams that have a history. It attracts a big crowd, people from everywhere. It’s kind of like a small-college atmosphere."

Well-known teammates in high school: "Giovani Bernard [Bengals]. Brandon Linder [Jaguars]. LaMarcus Joyner [Rams]. Marcus Roberson [Rams]. Major Wright [Buccaneers]."

Why he chose to attend Wisconsin: "I wanted to branch off, see new things. They have a great history running the football, and I wanted to run in the I-formation more than the spread stuff."

Favorite memories at Wisconsin: "My freshman year, beating Ohio State. It was a great opportunity for me, with the chance to score a touchdown to help us seal the deal. Just being with my teammates -- Montee Ball, Melvin Gordon -- we were together all the time off the field. That was a great time in college."

Memories of being drafted by the Patriots (fourth round, 130th overall): "It was definitely exciting, a dream come true. I don’t take it for granted. I’m blessed. It’s hard work. To be the best, and compete with the best players, you have to work hard and put the time in."

What he loves about football: "The team aspect. It takes everybody on the field to win the game. You can’t win a game with one person -- everyone has to do their job in order for the team to be successful. Bonding with these guys, being with them every day, hanging out, having fun, sharing stories. Everybody comes from a different place and there are different stories for everyone in terms of how they got here, and I think that’s great."

What he’s most proud of with his own story: "Just sticking with it. I was never really the guy that got the most attention or the most carries, but always staying motivated no matter what the situation was."

Summing up his football journey: "In Little League football, you always say, 'I want to make it to the NFL.' Just to be here is a dream come true."