Heisman winner to return next year

12/19/2003 - Oklahoma Sooners

NORMAN, Okla. -- Heisman Trophy winner Jason White has been
granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA and will return to
Oklahoma next season, the quarterback said Friday.

White, whose previous two seasons were cut short by knee
injuries, surprised his team with the announcement during a team
huddle at the end of practice.

"Anyone who has played college football will understand (my
decision)," White said. "I had been leaning this way and just
decided today that I am sure this is what I want to do. I really
look forward to another year at Oklahoma."

White, listed as a senior, had shrugged off questions all year
about whether he would return to Oklahoma for another season or
enter the upcoming NFL draft.

He repeatedly said he wouldn't reveal his decision until the end
of the season, but changed his mind after getting the NCAA's
approval Friday and consulting with his parents and coach Bob
Stoops over the past two weeks.

"I talked with my parents and coaches and decided this is what
I wanted to do," he said.

The Sooners' will face No. 2 LSU on Jan. 4 in the Sugar Bowl for
the Bowl Championship Series' national championship.

White is hoping to become the third quarterback to win the
Heisman and the national title in the same season, joining Florida
State's Charlie Ward (1993) and Florida's Danny Wuerffel (1996).

Recent Heisman-winning quarterbacks haven't fared as well, with
Florida State's Chris Weinke (2000) and Nebraska's Eric Crouch
(2001) following up their Heisman wins with subpar title-game

If he can't do it this season, though, he'll have a pretty good
chance next year.

With White returning next season, Oklahoma will welcome back all
but one starter from its record-setting offense -- the Sooners
scored a school-record 587 points this season and led the nation in
points per game (45.1).

"We're obviously excited," Stoops said. "Jason is a great
player and a great leader on our team. We've got a number of other
good players who will be back next season and it's encouraging to
think about that team with Jason at quarterback."

The 23-year-old senior leads the nation in passing efficiency,
completing 64 percent for 3,744 yards, 40 touchdowns and only eight

His comeback from two serious knee injuries was one of the
feel-good stories of the season.

Those injuries led to questions about his durability -- not to
mention ability. He managed to beat out three quarterbacks for the
starting job, but was still considered by many to be the Sooners'
lone question mark coming into the season.

But White shined from the start. Indeed, his statistics probably
would have been gaudier if Stoops hadn't pulled him from some
lopsided games.

In addition to the Heisman, White was honored as the AP Player
of the Year and he won the Davey O'Brien Award, given annually to
the nation's top quarterback.