PEARLAND, Texas -- Growing up, James White spent several Friday nights at The Rig.
The current home stadium of Pearland (Texas) High School was completed in 2001, when White's older brother Johnny was a star for the Oilers. Watching Johnny play receiver and defensive back -- and eventually go on to a college career at Wisconsin -- inspired James to take up football.
Now as a star running back for Pearland (Texas) Dawson High School, James White has his own productive Friday nights at The Rig. The stadium now hosts both Pearland High and Dawson High games, and has since Dawson opened in 2009. And though his brother served as an inspiration, James also wanted to do things his way.
"I kind of wanted to go on my own path," he said.
White is doing just that. After a productive junior season, when lead the team with 1,840 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns as part of a Dawson team that reached the state semifinals, the Texas A&M commitment is turning in a solid senior season so far.
The 6-foot, 210-pound running back has produced 371 rushing yards and seven touchdowns through the Eagles' first three games, all wins. On Friday against League City (Texas) Clear Falls, White was in full effect, showing off a combination of power, speed and vision en route to a 15-carry, 123-yard, two-touchdown night. The effort didn't require much White action in the second half as Dawson rolled to a 55-24 win over League City (Texas) Clear Falls.
"Our line did really good tonight," White said after the win. "They were opening up the holes. They were going off. They were winning everything in the trenches. They had a really good game tonight. They are what set the tone."
And while credit was due to those in front of White, he also took advantage of his opportunities, not hesitating when they came. On his 30-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, White found a hole on the left side, hit it and accelerated quickly, scoring in the blink of an eye.
His running ability wasn't all that was on display. On a 43-yard run by receiver Tony Upchurch on a fly sweep, White showed off his blocking ability by knocking down a Clear Falls defender to open the room for the speedy Upchurch to get into the second level of the defense.
"He's a great blocker," Dawson coach Eric Wells said of White. "He's 210 pounds and he gets going at you, he packs a pretty big punch."
White takes pride in being more than just a ball carrier.
"When you're a running back, you have to be able to do everything," he said. "That means blocking, catching and running."
As for his college destination, White was one of the 20 commitments in the 2013 class who had the chance to take in the Aggies' season-opening win over Florida on Sept. 8. Having seen a big-time college environment watching his brother play at Wisconsin, the experience at Kyle Field compared favorably.
"Whew, it was nice. I liked it," White said. "They played a really good game. From watching my brother when he was in college at Wisconsin and then going to a Texas A&M game, it was completely different. Texas A&M was amazing. I loved it."
Being there and talking to the coaches and bonding with the other recruits just strengthened White's resolve for heading to College Station, Texas.
"It just makes me want to go even more," he said. "I'm just excited."
As his undefeated team turns its attention toward district play, White is working to establish the kind of closeness with his teammates it will take to help them achieve their ultimate goal.
"I'm just coming closer to my team and we're coming closer to our goal, which is state," White said. "That's really what football is all about: team."