3DownNation top 100 CFL players: No. 87 RB John White IV, B.C. Lions

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

John White IV started his post-secondary career at Los Angeles Harbor College, a relatively small community college located south of the city.

Coincidentally, veteran CFL/NFL receiver Chris Matthews played at the school for two years (2007-2008) prior to his transfer to the University Kentucky.

White dominated for two seasons with the Seahawks, recording 3,767 all-purpose yards and 41 touchdowns. His elite production caught the attention of scouts from bigger and better programs, leading to a scholarship offer from the University of Utah.

His success followed him to the Utes where the star running back broke records in his first season with the team. White rushed for 1,519 yards as a junior in 2011, a single-season Utah rushing record that still stands today. He also rushed for 15 touchdowns, a record that stood for eight years until it was matched by Zack Moss in 2019.

White’s record-breaking season is extra impressive considering the number of Utes running backs who have had respectable NFL careers, including: Mike Anderson, 2000-2007; Matt Asiata, 2011-2017; Devontae Booker, 2016-present; Carl Monroe, 1983-1987; and Moss, 2020-present.

The native of Torrance, Calif. did not receive serious NFL interest despite his dominance at Utah. He ran a 4.70 forty-yard dash with a 7.40 three-cone drill at his pro day, which are lacklustre numbers for a five-foot-seven, 191-pound running back.

Measurables didn’t stop White from breaking records with the Utes and they didn’t stop him from making an impact in the CFL, either.

White signed with Edmonton in May 2013 and dressed for 15 games as a rookie. He started slow, recording 69 carries for 260 yards and one touchdown, but quickly caught fire the following year.

White had 123 carries for 852 yards and two touchdowns in 2014 along with 17 receptions for 182 yards and a score. His yards-per-carry average had almost doubled from his rookie season (3.8 to 6.9) and he was named a CFL all-star as a result.

Disaster struck in 2015 when White ruptured his Achilles in training camp. He missed the entire season, though he still earned a Grey Cup ring in November.

He set a string of new career-highs in 2016 with 886 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 164 carries. His receiving production also exploded, making 58 catches for 464 yards and one score. White also set a new Edmonton team record in the East Final with 160 rushing yards, breaking Normie Kwong’s single-game playoff record of 152 from 1958.

That’s when disaster struck for a second time. After recording 112 rushing yards and a touchdown two games in the 2017 season, White suffered a torn ACL. He would never record another carry in Edmonton.

Running backs need to make quick cuts in order to be effective. Battling back from an Achilles or ACL injury is tough, but two in a 49-month span? That’s almost unprecedented.

Edmonton released White at the start of training camp in 2018, though he soon joined Hamilton’s practice roster. He dressed for seven games with the Tiger-Cats, recording 78 carries for 400 yards and two touchdowns. He was a solid rotational player, but his days as a feature back appeared to be over.

That’s when White was reunited with Ed Hervey, his general manager in Edmonton. White signed with the B.C. Lions and had his best season to date, carrying the ball 192 times for 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns in 16 games.

He re-signed with the team immediately following the 2019 season, though the season was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. White is due to become a free agent in February 2021.

3DownNation is unveiling its list of the top 100 active CFL players. To read the criteria for player eligibility, click here. The list to date can be found below.

88. LB Avery Williams, Ottawa Redblacks
89. LB Jovan Santos-Knox, Free Agent
90. DB Richard Leonard, Calgary Stampeders
91. REC Armanti Edwards, Edmonton Football Team
92. RB C.J. Gable, Free Agent
93. DT Mike Rose, Calgary Stampeders
94. REC S.J. Green, Free Agent
95. DB Mike Edem, Saskatchewan Roughriders
96. DL John Bowman, Montreal Alouettes
97. DB Taylor Loffler, Montreal Alouettes
98. QB Nick Arbuckle, Ottawa Redblacks
99. ST Mike Miller, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
100. DE Chris Casher, B.C. Lions

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.