FOXBORO, Mass. — James White has grown up fast in the New England Patriots’ offense, and his rapid development has him mulling the chance to pay it forward.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick offered unique praise for the 26-year-old running back Tuesday by noting he “asks questions like a coach.” On Wednesday, White was asked a natural follow-up: Would he consider a career in coaching after his playing days are over?
“Possibly. I feel like I could do it,” White said during a press conference at Gillette Stadium. “It just depends how I feel once my career is over, but I feel like it’d be cool to pass down my knowledge to the younger generation.”
After the offseason departures of Dion Lewis and Mike Gillislee and a serious injury to Rex Burkhead, White suddenly is top dog in the running back room, and he’s been using that platform to mentor greener players like rookie Sony Michel.
The Wisconsin product always has been a student of the game, though, and credits his inquisitive nature to his DNA.
“I’m not sure; I guess from my parents,” White said. “They’re pretty detailed people. My dad’s a police officer, my mom’s a probation officer, so they’re very detail-oriented. I think that kind of got instilled in me, just trying to get all of the finer points. Maybe that’s where it comes from.”
White’s attention to detail is paying dividends this season. The fifth-year veteran has 45 receptions through seven games, trailing only Saquon Barkley for the most among NFL running backs, and leads all NFL backs with six touchdowns. His 569 total yards from scrimmage (189 rushing, 380 receiving) rank first on the Patriots.
White doesn’t intend to stop playing anytime soon, but his inner coach already is peeking through. Exhibit A: His assessment of fellow running backs Kenjon Barner and Kenneth Farrow, who both may be asked to step up Monday night against the Buffalo Bills if Michel is sidelined due to injury.
“They’re good guys. They’re working hard, trying to learn as much as possible,” White said of Barner and Farrow. “You can get a lot thrown at you pretty fast, but they’re willing to work, ask the questions, and they try to go out there and perform on the practice field.”
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images