CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The proudest accomplishment of Pat White's college football career is not any of the 15 NCAA, Big East and school records he set. It came before he was even on the West Virginia team.
Four months after White signed with the school in 2004, the Angels selected him in the fourth round of the baseball draft and offered a six-figure signing bonus. White decided to stick with football.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"My favorite moment as a player was when I realized I wanted to be a Mountaineer," he said. "The day of my visit, when I ran out on that field, it felt like nothing I've ever felt before."
For now, White has to focus on leading West Virginia (8-4) into the Meineke Bowl on Saturday against North Carolina (8-4) in Charlotte, N.C.
White has won all three bowls in which he's played. He topped Sam Bradford and Oklahoma in last January's Fiesta Bowl and has wins over Georgia Tech in the 2007 Gator Bowl and Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl.
"He is an electrifying athlete," North Carolina Coach Butch Davis said. "Just watching his film and the games that we've been able to catch on television over the last two years, he executes the read-option offense about as well as anybody you've ever seen. He explodes out of breaks. The thing I think makes him equally as dangerous is that he can throw the football very, very well."
White's 4,425 yards rushing are the most in NCAA history for a quarterback.
Some Mountaineer fans say he's the greatest football player in school history.
"Everybody's entitled to their opinion," White said. "And I'm grateful to those that think so."
First-year coach Bill Stewart was White's quarterbacks coach in 2005 and 2006 before moving on to other duties. He recalled several moments that personify White.
As a backup to Adam Bednarik during the first half of 2005, White never asked about playing time. White's father had flown to see his son at Rutgers, but White saw action only briefly.
Stewart told White, "Buddy, I'm sorry I didn't get you into the game (more) today. Adam had the hot hand."
White put his hand on Stewart's shoulder and replied, "Coach, don't worry about that. Adam was really playing great today. I wouldn't have put me in, either."
At the 2007 Gator Bowl, running back Steve Slaton was out with an injury and White wasn't feeling so hot, either. At one point, White had ice packs on both sides of his neck, one on his throwing hand and another around his ankle.
"Coach, put it on my back," White told Stewart.
"Son, they should fire me," Stewart replied.
Said White, "Coach, I don't want to let you down. Put it on my back."
White ran for 145 yards, threw for 131 more and rallied the Mountaineers from 18 points down in the second half to beat Georgia Tech 38-35.
This season, with Slaton and backfield mate Owen Schmitt in the NFL, White missed all or parts of several games with injuries and couldn't bring the Mountaineers a third BCS berth in his four seasons. White still managed 919 yards rushing and was invited to play in next month's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Despite last year's failure to reach the national championship game and Coach Rich Rodriguez's messy departure to Michigan, White wouldn't change a thing about his career.
"No way," he said.