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Thursday, September 1, 2022

Mentor gives Jets fans reasons to believe in Mike White

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The only similarity between Tom Brady and Mike White is this:

Brady was a sixth-round draft choice (Patriots).

White was a fifth-round draft choice (Cowboys).

Unless you listen to Roger Harriott.

“I’ve always compared him to Tom Brady,” Harriot told The Post. “His positive attitude and ability to circulate the ball and make good decisions. Very similar personalities.”

Harriott coached Mike White at NSU University School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., when they won a state championship together in White’s senior year. By no means is he predicting that Mike White will win seven Super Bowl championships and become a fellow GOAT. White, after all, has thrown 32 career passes and all 32 came Sunday against the Patriots, and the Jets didn’t draft Zach Wilson with the second-overall pick to be Wally Pipped.

By no means is Harriott, now the head coach at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, comparing Mike White physically to Tom Brady.

“No,” Harriott said. “They’re different people. But just the type of personality and ability to motivate others to compete and to play hard. He has that same ability. People just gravitate to him, they like him.

“Just like those guys like Tom Brady.”

Mike White, with Wilson sidelined with a knee injury, gets his first NFL start against the Bengals on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Harriott to Jets fans: Don’t worry.

Mike White
Bill Kostroun

“He’s a field general. He’s extremely poised, someone that is dependable with a competitive edge. He wants to make sure that everybody is in the right place and somehow, some way, he does it all with a benevolent attitude. Mike has a tendency to calm the circumstances by cultivating a very healthy environment…. His football acumen is extremely high, based on his general personality to be cool, calm and collected in his character of being someone who is trustworthy and result-oriented.”

Harriott was White’s P.E. coach in elementary school. He knows him as a kid who refuses to take no for an answer.

“He really went through it even when others told him that he wasn’t good enough or fast enough or big enough or strong enough,” Harriott said. “It did not stop him, if anything it was a driving force, and he still holds those same attributes today and it’s the reason why he’s in the NFL, and I’m sure he’s gonna have a pretty good game this weekend.

“If I know anything about Mike White, he really perseveres and he comes motivated through adversity. And I’m sure that last week’s game is a major disappointment to him (20-for-32, 202 yards, one TD, two INTs), and you’re definitely gonna see an improved performance this week.”

White didn’t become Harriott’s starting quarterback until his senior year.

“The nature of adolescent culture is instant gratification if they don’t get what they want,” Harriott said. “He’s an anomaly, man. He just stuck it out with a positive attitude. You know what I really think made him a very good player? He was on the sideline for four years doing signals, and he was pretty much a coach. I’m gonna tell you right now, I don’t know how many people in his life honestly say, ‘I predict Mike White to be a professional football player.’ Maybe a baseball player, but definitely not a football player.”

Mike White was a stud right-handed pitcher who threw in the low-90s. Football became an acquired taste for him once he began growing into his 6-foot-4⁵/₈ , 224-pound body.

“He was a person that physically matured late, a late bloomer,” Harriott said. “And he took his time and really developed into a tremendous leader and player within his senior year. His first few years he was a little smaller, he wasn’t as physically talented, and then he kept his focus on what he wanted to accomplish and eyes on the prize, and led us to a state championship.”

It was a dramatic comeback victory.

Mike White talks to the media.
Bill Kostroun

“In our state championship game, we were down,” Harriott recalled, “and his cool, calm and collected demeanor enabled us to come back and win the first state championship for University School during that time. Because he is the epitome of perseverance and a positive attitude, he has ability to attract these positive forces of nature. After that game, we’re on the bus, everyone’s celebrating, he gets the call from USF offering him a scholarship. He didn’t have an offer prior to that.”

Mike White smiled at the recollection of his 11-yard TD pass that gave University School its 24-17 victory over Madison County.

“We ran double slant, threw to my friend Emanuel Soto to take the lead, we were down like 17-0, and we hit it probably like eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter on the left side.”

After two years at USF and transferring to Western Kentucky and a year as the Cowboys’ third-string quarterback then another year bouncing off and on the Jets’ practice squad, excuse White for forgetting the exact details from over eight years ago.

“He’s the type of person that is driven by adversity and challenges, and he’s also the type of individual, if somebody believes in him, like his parents or a coach, someone that he truly has an authentic sense of admiration for, he just does not want to let them down,” Harriott said. “He’s a special human being.And that’s really why he’s in the NFL. Talent has some to do with it, but most of it is his spiritual and his just inner strength.”

Harriott isn’t expecting any deer-in-the-headlights looks in the huddle from Mike White.

“I wouldn’t go so far to say he’s overly charismatic, but he’s not an introvert either,” Harriott said . “He gets your attention now. They believe in him. He does have an extroverted personality but it is not in a negative way. It’s in a very positive way. He has an innate ability to calm the atmosphere and at the same time inspire intensity and perseverance. It’s his nature, he has a positive nature. If there was one word to describe Mike White it’s positive. He’s a positive competitor.”

With the signing of Joe Flacco, this could be a one-game audition for Mike White.

“I think he can be a starter in the NFL, and I also think he can be a star,” Harriott said. “He has the intestinal fortitude and the aptitude. The NFL is all about opportunity.”

Tom Brady got his when Drew Bledsoe was injured. Just sayin’.


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