Sib­lings from Hen­der­son find ’Nova con­nec­tion

Hen­der­son’s White brothers share 31-year con­nec­tion with ’Nova’s Tal­ley

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Terry Toohey ttoohey@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Ter­ryToohey on Twit­ter

It’s not un­usual for sons to fol­low in their fa­ther’s foot­steps, espe­cially when it comes to pick­ing a col­lege. It hap­pens all the time.

All-time ros­ters are filled with fa­ther-son com­bi­na­tions. So when it came time for West Ch­ester Hen­der­son’s T.J. and Bryan White to reach col­lege de­ci­sions, their re­spec­tive choices were pretty much a fore­gone con­clu­sion.

Their dad, Ted, was a de­fen­sive line­man on Andy Tal­ley’s first team in 1985 af­ter trans­fer­ring from Vir­ginia Tech in the spring of that year. He played three sea­sons for the Wild­cats and served as a team cap­tain in 1987.

“We grew up in a Vil­lanova fam­ily,” T.J. said. “We were here all the time for games when we were grow­ing up. We dreamt of be­ing Vil­lanova Wild­cats, so it was an easy de­ci­sion for us once the of­fer was given.”

The schol­ar­ship of­fers were ex­tended and im­me­di­ately ac­cepted and, over time, the brothers have be­come fix­tures on one of the best de­fen­sive units in the FCS. Bryan White, a 6-1, 280-pound sopho­more, is a starter at nose tackle for the 8-3 Wild­cats. T.J., a 6-1, 225-pound red­shirt se­nior, is a backup line­backer.

Both have played in all 11 games. Bryan White, 20, has been in­volved in 28 tack­les, in­clud­ing four for loss. T.J. White, 23, has mus­tered 18 tack­les and one pass breakup. That they get to play to­gether as part of Tal­ley’s last team at Vil­lanova, when their fa­ther was on Tal­ley’s first squad, is spe­cial for them and Tal­ley.

“Isn’t that some­thing?” Tal­ley said.

Be­cause of their age dif­fer­ence, the brothers only played to­gether for one sea­son at Hen­der­son, when T.J. was a se­nior and Bryan was a fresh­man. Yet the duo led the War­riors to an 8-3 record and the Ches-Mont League National Di­vi­sion ti­tle with a per­fect 6-0 mark.

“We’ve spent the last two years to­gether here, so it’s been pretty spe­cial,” T.J. said. “Not many brothers get to play Di­vi­sion I foot­ball to­gether.”

Vil­lanova ac­tu­ally has two sets of sib­lings on the ros­ter. Drew Wi­ley is a 6-1, 230-pound red­shirt fresh­man who is a backup at out­side line­backer. His younger brother Jeff is a fresh­man de­fen­sive line­man. Like the White brothers the Wi­ley brothers have played in all 11 games for the Wild­cats.

T.J. and Bryan White, as well as Drew and Jeff Wi­ley, will en­joy an­other ex­pe­ri­ence to­gether when the ninth-ranked and ninth­seeded Wild­cats host 24thseeded Saint Fran­cis (7-4) in the open­ing round of the FCS play­offs Satur­day (2 p.m. start) at Vil­lanova Stadium.

It will be T.J.’s sec­ond trip to the post­sea­son as a col­lege player and the first for Bryan.

“Play­offs are hard to come by and to have your brother by your side is re­ally spe­cial,” T.J. said. “We’re looking for­ward to it.”

They are ex­cited about the op­por­tu­nity for sev­eral rea­sons. The last time they were in a play­off game to­gether, Hen­der­son dropped a 28-17 de­ci­sion to Down­ing­town East in the open­ing round of the District 1 Class AAAA play­offs in 2011.

Also, win or lose, this will be the last home game of Tal­ley’s ca­reer. If the Wild­cats win, they’ll be at eighth­seeded South Dakota State next week. And if Vil­lanova can knock off the Jackrab­bits, the Wild­cats will most likely get top-seeded and five-time de­fend­ing national cham­pion North Dakota State in the Fargo Dome in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

“All we wanted was one more home game,” Bryan said. “We didn’t win our last home game (a 20-7 loss to James Madi­son), so we def­i­nitely want to win this one.”

The JMU loss still both­ers the Wild­cats. Vil­lanova had a chance to clinch a share of the Colo­nial Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion ti­tle and a bye in the first round of the play­offs, but had to set­tle for a sec­ond-place tie with New Hamp­shire in­stead.

“It just makes our road a lit­tle tougher,” T.J. said, “but we’re up to the chal­lenge.”

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Brothers T.J. and Bryan White are play­ing to­gether at Vil­lanova Univer­sity. They at­tended West Ch­ester Hen­der­son and their fa­ther Ted also played for the Wild­cats dur­ing Andy Tal­ley’s first year as head coach IN 1985.

West Ch­ester Hen­der­son grad T.J. White, a line­backer, mixes it up at a Wild­cats prac­tice Tues­day.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

PETE BANNAN-DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Bryan and TJ White talk on the field dur­ing prac­tice at Vil­lanova stadium. The brothers both at­tended West Ch­ester Hen­der­son. Their fa­ther Ted also played for the WIid­cats dung Andy Tal­ley first years as head coach.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

West Ch­ester Hen­der­son grad T.J. White, a line­backer, mixes it up at a Wild­cats prac­tice Tues­day.

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