Sun Devil Summer School: The Early Legends - Wilford "Whizzer" WhitePosted: Updated:
The first week of Sun Devil Summer School comes to a close with us flipping the pages for one of the program's true legends and patriarch of ASU football's first family in Wilford "Whizzer" White.
Born Sept. 26, 1928 in Mesa, White was a multi-sport star for Mesa High before graduating and moving on to a college career for Arizona State College.
Arizona State's leading rusher from 1948-50, White ran for 539 yards in 1948 and then 935 in '49 and also was ASC's leader in receiving yards both years with a total of 161 points scored between the two seasons. He also earned First-Team All-Border Conference accolades in 1948.
Though solid during his sophomore and junior seasons, White's senior year of 1950 placed him into an historic position in Sun Devil lore that still carries its weight more than 60 years later.
In 1950, White carried 199 times for 1,502 yards with 22 total touchdowns, leading the nation in rushing and ranking third in points scored (136). His rushing yardage total set a school record as did his 22 touchdowns. His collection of scores remains the best single-season output in program history.
In four of his 10 regular season games played on the year White surpassed 190 rushing yards including a then-school record 236 yards on 30 attempts at BYU on Sept. 23, 1950.
As a whole for the season White contributed 2,065 all-purpose yards en route to earning Second-Team All-America honors by the Associated Press as well as First-Team All-Border Conference recognition.
White also helped revitalize ASU's rivalry with Arizona as he drove the Sun Devils to consecutive wins in 1949 and '50 which came after 11 consecutive wins by the Wildcats in the series.
By the end of his Sun Devil career, White had totaled 3,173 rushing yards on 505 carries over his four seasons in Tempe, making him a head-and-shoulders career rushing leader for Arizona State.
White also helped lead ASC to back-to-back Sun Bowl appearances following the 1949 and '50 seasons and he scored a pair of touchdowns in each game.
Woody Green (1971-73) surpassed White's career total with 4,188 career yards, as did Freddie Williams (1973-76) with 3,424 yards. J.R. Redmond ran for 3,299 yards from 1996-99 actively placing White fourth on ASU's all-time rushing list. In terms of single-season efforts, only Green's 1,565-yard explosion in 1972 tops White's total in 1950.
Elsewhere in the Arizona State record books, White ranks first in all-purpose yards (3,173 rushing, 892 receiving, 798 punt return yards, 791 kickoff return yards), first in career punt return average (17.7), second in interceptions returned for touchdowns (three), tied with Green for most career touchdowns (48).
To honor his unprecedented accomplishments on the gridiron, White's No. 33 was retired at the conclusion of his senior season.
After his illustrious ASC career, White was selected in the third round by the Chicago Bears and played 17 total games over the 1951-52 seasons primarily as a kick and punt returner.
The White family's impact on Arizona State and college football continued long after "Whizzer's" career concluded as his son, Danny, followed his father's footsteps and became a College Football Hall of Fame member after a storied three-year Sun Devil career. Wilford and Danny White are two of the most accomplished athletes in program history and are two of only five Sun Devils to have their numbers retired and taken out of use at ASU.
Sixty years after Wilford White's career ended at ASU, "Whizzer's" grandson Max Hall—who initially signed with ASU in 2004 before leaving for an LDS mission—played for the Arizona Cardinals, appearing in six games in 2010.
White was a charter inductee to ASU's Sports Hall of Fame in 1975, as was his son Danny.