Fighting through adversity, coming out a leader; Liam White
Madras High School senior Liam White has decided to commit to play football at Pacific University in Forest Grove. The future Boxer was a defensive player, a linebacker for the White Buffalos and will now take his talents to Pacific University this fall.
"I was really excited to take all my visits," White said. "It was super fun to be around the guys, the football players, coaches. What I was looking for mostly was a good academic school with coaches that really cared about their players. That was a big decision and the coaching staff was really amazing there. They have all the resources to make me great and make me a better football player as well as be a better student. All the players were super friendly and nice. They all seemed to care about other kids on campus and having a great football team."
White's journey has not been an easy one and his route to playing college football had a few obstacles. Liam has a strong passion for the game of baseball and put a lot of focus on the diamond.
White did not start his football journey being a defensive stud for Madras, but his high school journey started his sophomore year when he was the starting quarterback for Madras.
With a strong arm, good fundamentals and football knowledge, White made the best of his quarterback position, but before league play started his junior year in 2018, he was replaced by all-around athlete Robert Pacheco, who earned first-team conference honors as a QB
"I think it is a true testament to what he had to do to get there," said head Madras football coach Kurt Taylor. "He changed a lot. At first he was all about baseball, baseball, baseball. He loves baseball and I think baseball is still his passion. I think if he had an opportunity to play both at Pacific he would take it. With all this stuff going on his senior year I don't know if that will happen, but he really persevered through some things. He was our quarterback starting out as a sophomore and kind of struggled with that, not his performance, but with a few other things we were dealing with on staff. We decided to move him to the defensive side and give him a shot there because he has always been a really good defensive player, but because he was our quarterback we really did not want him on that other side."
Once White was moved to the defensive side of the ball, he made a great impact for the Buffs and the first game starting on defense, White caught an interception for the Buffs.
"Once it alleviated itself on that quarterback spot, he became a damn good football player on the defensive side," he said. "He is a stud on defense. A lot of it is because he is so dang smart. He knows where the ball is going all the time. This last year especially, he really turned into quite the leader for us overall, but especially on the defensive side. He started grooming younger players and it was really cool to see."
Not only did White change positions, but he also fell back in love with the game of football and with that enjoyment came leadership. He learned to fight through adversity and the obstacles he had in front of him, becoming a better football player and leader.
"When I started playing defense, when I started talking to Jerry, coach Shaw, he really put me back on track to love the sport again," White said. "After our last game (loss to Rainier in state playoffs) I realized I didn't want my football career to end there. I was lucky enough to have coaches who vouched and reached out for me so I could continue playing."
His senior year, White earned second team defensive honors for the White Buffalos. He had 36 tackles, 21 solo tackles, two tackles for a loss and one interception in nine games played. White was also able to get some snaps at quarterback, throwing for 68 yards and a touchdown, as well as rushing for 11 yards and a touchdown.
Once he decided he wanted to play college football, White and the coaching staff sent his film out to different schools, hoping teams would be interested. Soon White did not have just one or two schools interested, but a handful of schools wanted White to play for them.
"The commiting to a certain team was quite a journey for Liam because we started putting feelers out there and started to send his tape out to a bunch of schools," Taylor said. "We started with (George) Fox and hit a bunch of DIII schools. Then Eastern (Oregon) came and looked at him. All of a sudden, and those guys talk to each other, within two or three months, he had, I want to say, a really decent handful of schools asking about him, going on visits for him. There was a school in Idaho, Lewis and Clark, Montana State Northern, and then of course all of the Division III schools in the Northwest conference, Fox, Pacific, Puget Sound, Witworth."
"It was quite the journey and really cool to see it open up for him because he was well deserving of it," he said. "I think it became a really hard decision for him just because there were so many options all of a sudden. I think Pacific is a really good fit for him. The coaches there are awesome, such good guys. They just switched their head coach over, but the head coach that was there, coached there for 12 years and he just became the athletic director. One of the other coaches took over for him and it was a pretty seamless transition, which I think helped Liam as well. The campus is beautiful and they are doing some really good things. It was really cool to see that whole process for him."
Last season the Pacific football program ended the regular season with a 4-6 overall record under the helm of former head coach and new athletic director Kieth Buckley. Now the team will be coached by former assistant coach, new head coach Ian Falconer.
"Next is just get the workout plan, get the playbook, read it, learn it, you know memorize everything I need to memorize," White said. "Get on campus and get some playing time, fight for a spot. I just want to get out there and compete everyday. It is not so much about playing time, but about how I can support my team as much as possible. I want to succeed in playing sports and in school too."
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