No letdown for White this year

Updated: December 10, 2004, 9:59 PM ET
By Pat Forde | ESPN.com

Oklahoma was tied with Texas A&M in College Station, Texas, having already come back from three 14-point deficits. The Corps was screaming. The clock was running -- less than seven minutes to play.

Wunderkind running back Adrian Peterson was on the sideline with a blown-out shoulder. And it all felt like a flashback to 2003: The Sooners' title run, derailed last year largely by a lack of a running game, was back on the shoulders of quarterback Jason White.

A Finalist And A Voter
Jason White is the only active college football player with a Heisman Trophy vote.

And he's not telling who got it.

"I decided I wasn't going to say anything," said White, the 2003 Heisman winner and 2004 Heisman finalist. "But there are two people very worthy of it: Adrian (Peterson, his teammate at Oklahoma) and Matt (Leinart, the USC quarterback).

"They're both on my ballot, let's just say that."

As for the third spot? It definitely does not belong to the voter.

"I wouldn't vote for myself," White said.

-- Pat Forde
He'd already thrown four touchdown passes, continually dragging Oklahoma back from the brink of being upset. Now, on third-and-10 from the Aggies' 39-yard line, White had to make another play to save the day.

One problem: Receiver Mark Bradley incorrectly read the coverage and ran the wrong route -- a slant instead of a corner.

White looked for Bradley where he was supposed to be near the sideline, speeding toward the end zone -- he wasn't there. So he checked down through his other receivers -- all covered. Finally, pocket collapsing, he sprinted forward. A guy with two ACL surgeries was prepared to run for the first down.

But right on top of the line of scrimmage, White spied the wayward Bradley running free in the middle of the field.

"He turned out to be in the right place at the right time," White said.

Throwing off one foot on the run, he drilled Bradley in the chest, and the blazing receiver made one move and sped off to the end zone with the winning touchdown.

And that is what it's all about for White: winning. He's fixated on the national title that eluded Oklahoma last year, in no small part because the Heisman-winning quarterback didn't play up to his peak level in postseason losses to Kansas State and LSU.

White has his personal hardware already. That might be why, at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show in Orlando, Fla., Thursday, his lack of enthusiasm for the individual awards at stake was palpable. All things considered, he looked like he'd rather be studying.

"Believe me, it would be great to have another one and be put in the category with Archie Griffin (the only other two-time Heisman winner)," White said. "But it's not that big a deal to me. The Big 12 championship? I have one now. A national championship? I don't have one. That's what I want."

Said teammate and friend Dan Cody: "I'm on a personal level with Jason, and it doesn't matter to him. ... Jason would like to win it, but he's really, really got his heart set on the Orange Bowl."

Pat Forde is a senior writer at ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.

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