Detroit Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher uses a lot of adjectives to describe senior linebacker William White, but the one he repeats most often is “leader.”
That is not an accident.
“It’s my family, I have a wonderful family,” White said. “We have a lot of leaders in our family.”
You can begin with White’s father, Willie, who played cornerback at Texas Tech after graduating from Detroit Murray-Wright. He is a former Cass Tech assistant who teaches statistics at Wayne State.
White’s mother, Dawn, is a teacher at Birney Elementary in Detroit. His brother, Maurice, 25, is an engineer and his sister, Ryanne, 22, is a Michigan State senior majoring in statistics.
That is a lot of brainpower to live up to in that house.
“It’s a challenge,” said White, who has a 3.2 grade-point average. “There’s talent in the family. There’s a lot of successful people in my family. Sometimes it gets frustrating.”
So White, who will start at linebacker when Cass opens its season in the Prep Kickoff Classic against Southfield at 7 p.m. Friday at Wayne State, takes his family victories any way he can get them.
“It’s a lot to live up to,” he said. “But I also think I’m the most athletic out of all of them.”
White, 6-feet-1, 225 pounds, is extremely athletic, and a lot of credit for that goes to his father.
“I train a lot with my dad on off days,” he said. “We’ll wake up at 9 in the morning and we’ll do sprints on the side of the house or we’ll go to Wayne State and do sprints or parachutes — working on the starts when you come out for the 40.
“We’ll go in the basement and work on some of the things you need to work on like on an incline bench, work on your shoulders and all that stuff that builds up your muscle frame.”
There is always an emphasis on speed every time he works out with his 47-year-old father, who knows a thing or two about speed.
“He ran a 4.3 in the 40 when he played,” White said. “Aw, he’s old now, so I don’t know how fast he is now.”
Three years ago as a freshman, White alternated at linebacker with Royce Jenkins-Stone, who was a junior and now plays at Michigan. White moved into a starting role as a sophomore and has been a big part of Cass Tech’s two consecutive Division 1 state championships.
Although Cass lost some talented players from a year ago — at least 12 seniors signed to play Division I or Division II college football — there is still plenty of talent left to make Cass a contender to win a third straight title.
Over the last three years, the Technicians re-wrote the script of a team that could never win a big playoff game to one that people expect to be playing in Ford Field on Thanksgiving weekend.
“It’s pretty cool,” White said. “But people really don’t know what it takes to prepare to win one. It’s a lot of hard work and dedication, not only on the football field, but in the classroom as well. You just have to be a role model to everyone. You’ve got the whole city on your back.”
Forget about the city — White has his father on his back, which can be worse than having the whole city there.
“He’s a real hard dad about being a man in general,” White said. “He’s always on me on the littlest stuff — the way I speak, the grammar, school-wise, football-wise. He just wants me to be successful, that’s all. Sometimes if I’m upset, I tell myself he just wants me to be the best man I can be.”
So far, so good.
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