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Roddy White sees good future at UAB

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White has joined the fight to save football at his alma mater, the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

There have been discussions about the possibility of eliminating the program, although nothing definitive. White starred at UAB from 2001 to 2004 before becoming a first-round draft pick of the Falcons in 2005.

"UAB gave me my first opportunity and the first chance to play football," White said. "From there, I made it here. It's been 10 years in the league, so UAB was like the stepping stone for me getting to where I am today.

"I'm always willing to do whatever it takes to save the program. If we're talking millions and millions of dollars now, well. But I would contribute, if it would save our program."

The city of Birmingham has pledged to stand behind UAB football, and former players such as White have done the same with written pleas to the university president. There was a rally Tuesday that White was unable to attend while preparing for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns. The city council unanimously approved a resolution supporting the program.

A revealed university strategic plan apparently raised the possibility of dissolving the football program.

"At the end of the day, it's going to be up to the trustees and what they want to do," White said.

UAB (5-5, 3-3 Conference USA) is enjoying a renaissance under first-year coach Bill Clark. The Blazers are one win away from becoming bowl eligible. The last time they played in a bowl was 2004, when White caught a 51-yard touchdown pass to start the game in a 59-40 loss to Hawaii.

"I think they're doing a good job," White said. "The new coaches came in and they've won a lot of games this year, a lot more. They're about to be bowl eligible. This is a good step for them. So to say they want to end the program when it's just starting and a guy is just taking over, it's kind of tough. [It] puts them in a bad situation."

The Blazers play host to conference leader Marshall (10-0, 6-0) on Saturday and conclude the regular season Nov. 29 at Southern Miss (3-8, 1-6).

White believes an on-campus stadium would help UAB's cause rather than students and fans driving 20 to 30 minutes to 80,000-plus seat Legion Field, which opened in 1927 and was last renovated in 2005. He understands the recruiting challenges faced by the Blazers' staff.

"It's hard because you come in and you're already in third place behind Alabama and Auburn recruiting just in-state guys," White said. "Right there in the bed of the South is LSU and Auburn and Alabama. There's Florida and Florida State, Miami. So you're right there, kind of right in the middle of everything. It's hard to recruit guys, but you have to get the guys that you think are going to be special."

White sees no reason the Blazers shouldn't be able to elevate themselves into the national conversation, regardless of the obstacles.

"Back in the day, when I was there, teams like TCU and Baylor were in our conference," White said. "Now, those teams are in the Big 12 and they're going out there and they've got a Heisman Trophy winner [Baylor's Robert Griffin III].

"It wasn't too long ago that we were on the same playing field in trying to strive to do bigger things. At that point, we were beating those guys. Times have changed. Those guys are now premier teams. They're winning a lot of games now. I think UAB can get to that level -- one day."

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan isn't surprised by White's willingness to be involved.

"If you asked me personality traits that describe Roddy, he's as loyal as anybody I know," Ryan said. "I think that's probably one of my favorite qualities about him. And I think it shows with him trying to help out his alma mater, help out a place that certainly got him to where he is today."