Wisconsin vs. Iowa: James White Breaks out of Melvin Gordon's Shadow

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Wisconsin vs. Iowa: James White Breaks out of Melvin Gordon's Shadow
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

James White has shared time in a backfield with some big names for the better part of a decade, so perhaps you shouldn't be surprised to hear that he is one quiet guy. 

When you've shared a backfield with the likes of Giovanni Bernard at St. Thomas Aquinas High School and Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon at Wisconsin, it's hard not to feel a bit overlooked and act a bit quieter than most. 

On Saturday in Iowa City, James White ran out of Gordon's shadow for the first time this season.  

White, the redshirt senior, ran for 132 yards on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns.

Both were team bests against the stingy Iowa defense and also happened to be the first time all season that White led the Badgers in rushing.

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

His performance on Saturday was badly needed by the Badgers, with star running back Melvin Gordon struggling—gaining a season low 62 yards on 17 carries.

Consider it White's way of saying "remember me," to all those that have doubted him throughout his collegiate career.

With the shadows his teammates have cast, you'd think White just couldn't cut it.

That's the furthest thing from the case though, as he is the active FBS leader in career rushing yards (3,375) and rushing touchdowns (41).

Not bad for a guy who's been perceived as nothing better than a change-of-pace back his entire career, huh?

White has usually been asked to pound out some of the hard yards between the tackles and in short-yardage situations this season, yet he's still managed to gain 804 yards and average 6.3 yards a carry on the season. 

Despite the label of workhorse, White and Gordon have actually pretty much evenly split the duties this season. White leads Wisconsin with 108 rushing attempts, and Gordon is just one behind at 107. 

That's the luxury Wisconsin has at its disposal—two running backs that can bust the big play and pound the ball when needed.

White reminded everyone of that on Saturday, scampering for 59 yards on Wisconsin's final drive of the game. 

He had 71 of his 132 yards on that drive alone and capped it off with a touchdown run from two yards out. 

Even if it was for just one day in Kinnick Stadium, White proved why the spotlight should shine on him, too. 

 

*Andy Coppens is the lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens.

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