Jenni Carl­son: Fif­teen years af­ter Ja­son White won the Heisman, the for­mer OU quar­ter­back hopes Kyler Mur­ray does what he didn’t.

The Oklahoman - - HEISMAN EXTRA - Jenni Carl­son jcarl­[email protected]­la­homan.com Jenni Carl­son: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or jcarl­[email protected]­la­homan.com. Like her at face­book.com/Jen­niCarl­sonOK, fol­low her at twit­ter.com/ jen­ni­carl­son_ok or view her per­son­al­ity page at newsok.com/ jen­ni­carlso

Ja­son White didn’t feel any dif­fer­ent when he stepped onto the Su­per­dome turf that Jan­uary night back in 2004. Sure, he had won the Heisman Tro­phy only a few weeks ear­lier. Yes, the Sugar Bowl against LSU was his first game since beat­ing out Eli Man­ning and Larry Fitzger­ald for the lit­tle bronze statue. But win­ning the Heisman didn’t change how the Ok­la­homa quar­ter­back felt. LSU de­fend­er­s­saw things dif­fer­ently. “I never heard so many peo­ple talk trash,” White said the other day. “That game was one of the worst.” He chuck­led. “Ev­ery­thing was, ‘Oh, the Heisman win­ner’ or ‘Take that, Heisman win­ner.’It was al­ways some­thing.” Fif­teen years af­ter White­won the first in a re­cent string of Heis­mans for the Soon­ers, Kyler Mur­ray is try­ing do some­thing White failed to do. Heck, it’s some­thing Sam Brad­ford and Baker May­field didn’t do ei­ther. Win the Heisman and the na­tional ti­tle. Seven­teen play­ers have done so in the eight decades of the Heisman’s ex­is­tence, but if you elim­i­nate Matt Leinart’s dou­ble-dip be­cause USC va­cated the 2004 ti­tle,there have only been four in the past 20 years. White was ac­tu­ally part of a run of four Heisman win­ners in six years who lost ti­tle tilts. The Heisman Jinx ac­tu­ally be­came a thing. White doesn’t be­lieve in any of that, but still, head­mits win­ning col­lege foot­ball’s most pres­ti­gious award is tax­ing. “This whole week ... it’s drain­ing,” White said. “You go to the col­lege foot­ball awards show, and then from there, you get up early Fri­day morn­ing and fly to New York. In New York, you have event af­ter event. “Al­though it was fun and ex­cit­ing and some­thing you’ll al­ways re­mem­ber, it also took a toll.” When White got back to Nor­man, he didn’t step off the tread­mill ei­ther. He did in­ter­views. He made ap­pear­ances. Re­mem­ber, as pop­u­lar as OU quar­ter­backs of re­cent years have been, White was beloved in this state. He’s a na­tive of small-town Ok­la­homa who won the Heisman af­ter tear­ing both of his knees. Peo­ple wanted to see him, hug him, con­grat­u­late him. White un­der­stood. “I was hon­ored to be a part of it,” he said, “and hon­ored to share the sto­ries from it.” Still, if he could go back, he might not have been so agree­able in those days. He might had said no a lit­tle more of­ten, though as a salt-of-the-earth guy that might not have been easy. He be­lieves he fully re­turned to foot­ball mode once the Soon­ers started prac­tic­ing for the bowl. His so­cial cal­en­dar shrunk, and his ex­tra obli­ga­tions di­min­ished. His fo­cus was the Tigers. Turns out, their fo­cus was him. They made life dif­fi­cult that Jan­uary night in New Or­leans, get­ting to him of­ten and hur­ry­ing him reg­u­larly. White was 13 of 37 for 102 yards, no touch­downs and two in­ter­cep­tions. It was eas­i­lythe­worst game of his ca­reer, much less the sea­son. Can Mur­ray do what White couldn’t? First, of course, Mur­ray has to win the Heisman, no sure thing. Re­gard­less of what hap­pens, White hopes Mur­ray will soak up ev­ery­thing. Re­mem­ber the peo­ple and the places. Sa­vor the emo­tions and the ex­cite­ment. Live in the mo­ment. “He’s one of very few guys that got se­lected to be on that stage,” White said. “You’ve just got to en­joy that mo­ment be­cause you’ll look back when you’re my age and be like, ‘Man, that was such a great ex­pe­ri­ence.’”

[PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, OK­LA­HOMAN AR­CHIVES]

For­mer Ok­la­homa quar­ter­back Ja­son White re­called the week he won the Heisman Tro­phy in 2003 as “fun and ex­cit­ing and some­thing you’ll al­ways re­mem­ber, it also took a toll.”

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