Vincent White’s performance on the football field at Denver’s Mullen High School, Stanford University and with the Denver Gold was impeccable.
State championships, all-conference honors and making it to the pros leaves no room for blemishes. White earned his share of accolades at a time when coach Red Miller was leading the Broncos to their first Super Bowl appearance in 1978. It was difficult to push the Broncos’ “MM Connection” of quarterback Craig Morton and receiver Haven Moses out of the limelight, but White held his own.
Tom Thenell, the starting quarterback on the 1978 Mullen team, puts White in perspective.
“With Vincent White on your team, when you went into a game, you knew you were going to win,” Thenell said.
“When I started at Mullen, that’s when Mullen became Mullen and started winning state championships,” White said during a phone interview from his home in North Coventry Township, Pa. “Mullen was an all-boys school of about 300 students. Sister Diane, my chemistry teacher, was a tough lady.”
Thenell, the current coach at Mullen, remembers a specific play during the playoffs on the way to the state championship.
“We were down, and it looked bleak,” Thenell said. “Vincent returned a kickoff for a touchdown and we won the game.”
The kickoff return in question went for 102 yards and it remains in the Colorado High School Activities Association record book.
Mullen played at Montrose and won the Class 3A state crown.
White went on to Stanford, where he became a teammate and pet receiver for quarterback John Elway.
It would be impossible to describe White’s college career without mentioning the “Band Game” that has become part of college football’s permanent history.
On Nov. 20, 1982, Stanford took a 20-19 lead into the final seconds of a game against California and kicked off after scoring what appeared to be a winning field goal. But in the confusion of laterals on
the field and the game clock, the Stanford band ran on the field thinking the game was over. The Cal return team weaved its way through the band and scored a winning touchdown.
“I scored two touchdowns in that game and had to watch it all come apart,” White said. “I’m still seeing it every once in a while when they show the end of the game on television. They could leave it off forever if they want to.”
Otherwise, White has good memories of his college days.
“College football was a lot of fun for me,” White said. “John Elway was a great leader and he was ‘The Man’ in college football when I played.”
White wasn’t the biggest player on the field. When he arrived at Stanford in 1979, he was 5-foot-7 and 167 pounds. Before he left in 1983 he was up to 191 pounds, but dropped back closer to 170 pounds for his time with the Gold.
Elway and White had their big connection in 1982 when White was the national leader in pass receptions with 68 (for 677 yards and eight TDs). He was selected to the all-conference Pac-10 first team.
White finished at Stanford with 4,552 all-purpose yards, including 1,722 receiving and 1,121 in kickoff returns.
He was selected in the sixth round by the New York Jets in the NFL draft, but elected to come back home to Denver and play for the Gold in the United States Football League. When he arrived the USFL was playing in the spring.
He left that league and joined the college football coaching ranks in 1985.
“That’s an understatement,” White said of his coaching career when it was suggested he has held down coaching jobs everywhere. “Every move I’ve made, I looked at it as a step up.”
He’s beginning his second year on the staff at Fordham, and looks back at his time at such places as Utah, Arizona State, New Mexico and a stop at St. Mary’s College in California as the head coach. His term ended when St. Mary’s disbanned the football team after going 1-11 in 2003.
He’s not ready to call Fordham home. He’d love to be on the coaching staffs at Colorado or Colorado State. And he dreams of being a head coach again.
As a player, White excelled in football. But as a black coach, he doesn’t see the same opportunities to show his skills as a coach.
“We’re usually given only one chance to be a head coach,” White said of African-American coaches. “Being successful is the only way to get another chance.”
Vincent White bio
Born: Aug. 26, 1961, in Kansas City, Mo.
High School: Mullen High School, Denver
Family: Wife Jennifer; son Isaac; daughters Avery, Ashly
Hobbies: Golf, coaching youngsters
Future: Would like to be a head coach again
Residence: North Coventry Township, Pa.