Players of the Pine Belt: Northeast Jones counting on senior Sam White on its front line

Players of the Pine Belt: Northeast Jones counting on senior Sam White on its front line

LAUREL, Miss. (WDAM) - They say a man’s got to know his limitations.

In the case of Northeast Jones Hugh School senior Sam White, those limitations have turned out to be quite the asset for the football team’s offensive line.

“Big and I’m strong, and I’m fast, but I’m not fast enough to be anywhere else,” White said. “So, offensive line fits me.”

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound White, who missed his freshman season after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, has started up front the past two years on the offense.

Northeast Jones coach Keith Braddock said the Tigers not only are fortunate to have a player with White’s physical attributes, but also the mental assets that he brings to the field and the locker room.

“He’s a guy that speaks up and can lead verbally but he leads (more) by example,” Braddock said. “He’s a tremendously hard-worker, a straight A student, an all-around good guy and he’s a really good football player, too.

“He’s started for us a couple years. Overcame ACL surgery early in his career and did a great job with rehab and there was no doubt he’d be back and leading us. And he does, and does a good job.”

White, who was selected as Northeast Jones’ “Player of the Pine Belt,” said he not only studies the game but each opponent.

“You have to know a lot of stuff,” White said. “Things change from week to week, depending on where their best player lines up. We can’t run some things during certain weeks.

“Offensive line you have to know the entire offense. You have to know everything, in and out.”

Braddock said seniors like White will be invaluable on a relatively young team like Northeast Jones.

“They mean everything and (White’s) a guy (who) can get other people headed in the right direction,” Braddock said. “Understanding what we’re trying to do and how we go about doing it from a practice standpoint on this particular play (against) this particular front.

“You’ve gotta have somebody up there that can make those calls and simplify it so you can go play fast. He’s a guy that does that for us and has done it for a couple years.”

The Tigers broke through after a couple of rough seasons, making the Class 4A playoffs in 2019.

“We lost three or four games by just a few points so we’re really, really close,” Braddock said. “We’ll be young this year, but a lot of those young kids played. We started six freshmen on defense when we went to South Pike in the first round (last season).

“It’s something we’re looking forward to, as far as getting started and getting this going. We feel like down the stretch, if we can stay healthy and get a break or two, we have a chance to really compete when it comes (region) time. And the kids believe that and are working hard. Like I said, you have a chance and that’s all you can ask for.”

The COVID-19 shadow still looms over the season, and White said he’d be massively disappointed if the Tigers were unable to roar on game nights.

“It means everything around here,” White said. “Football’s everything. Getting to be able to play out on your field on Friday nights is what matters to 90 percent of people in the South.”

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