Huskies' Jordan White-Frisbee hoping for injury-free season
Huskies guard Jordan White-Frisbee hopes to finally put it all together as a senior after battling injuries and adjusting to a position change.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Consider Jordan White-Frisbee one of the biggest mysteries on a Washington Huskies football team full of them.
Literally, at least, if not figuratively.
Listed at 6 feet 6, 368 pounds, White-Frisbee says he's actually more like 355 and says, "I'd like to cut down a little bit more."
It's White-Frisbee's ability to move uncommonly well for a man of such uncommon size, however, that puts him as one of Washington's potential breakout players in 2008 — only about four years after he first appeared poised for starter-dom, if not stardom.
After starting eight games as a defensive tackle in 2004, foot injuries and a switch to the offensive line caused White-Frisbee, a graduate of Inglemoor High, to play only three games over the next two seasons.
He re-emerged last year to start three games as a guard, but still was generally relegated to reserve duty, hardly the role that would seem worthy of the high praise he got one day last fall in a national publication that listed him as one of the UW players with the best prospects for an NFL future.
But offensive-line coach Mike Denbrock understands the intrigue.
"I think he's got the type of build that makes NFL scouts at least pay attention," Denbrock said. "He's going to have to prove it on the field, obviously, with what he does this season. But he's got the tools. He's a big, powerful guy that's got some nastiness to him, and those guys end up playing a long time in the NFL, a lot of them."
For now, White-Frisbee just wants to play a long time this season.
The biggest question about White-Frisbee has always been his health. He's had five surgeries — three on his right foot, two on his left.
The right foot has caused the most problems since he began his college career. All three surgeries on it have come since he enrolled at UW.
He says now that "it's always going to hurt the rest of my life."
But after his career for so long seemed to be hanging by a thread, he has been injury-free for almost two years.
"I really don't feel it [pain in the right foot] anymore," he said. "I can go full-go and not have to worry about it. So I finally have confidence in my body and know that it will hold up no matter what I put it through."
Once healthy, he was moved to the offensive line for good before the 2007 season, a move he resisted earlier in his career but came to accept due in part to his injuries.
"Once I knew I couldn't play defense anymore, it was fine," he said, adding his foot could no longer handle the starting-and-stopping rigors of the defensive line.
Stable in position and health, his talent finally shone through again last season. He played so well in practice that Denbrock felt compelled to find him time, and one of White-Frisbee's starts came against Cal, when the Huskies offensive line rolled over the Bears 37-23, gaining 334 yards rushing.
"He really has kind of taken to the position really quickly," Denbrock said. "He made a lot of strides in what I would consider a short period of time. He really started to come on the middle of last year and just kind of continued that growth, and fortunately he has stayed healthy enough to come to work and progress, and he's put himself in a position where it's going to be hard to keep him off the field."
Indeed, while both of UW's starting guards return — right guard Casey Bulyca and left guard Ryan Tolar — White-Frisbee is in the hunt for a starting spot. The uncertainty surrounding the health of Juan Garcia has had the Huskies experimenting with Tolar at center, which could open up some time for White-Frisbee at guard. Due to White-Frisbee's relative inexperience on the line, Denbrock has kept him almost exclusively at left guard so as not to "oversaturate him with too much."
White-Frisbee's ascension, however, gives the Huskies as much experienced depth in the middle of its offensive line as it has had since maybe the 2000 Rose Bowl season, and is one of the biggest reasons for optimism.
"A lot of big boys," the good-natured White-Frisbee says with a smile. "A lot of skillful guys. It'll be really hard on coach Denbrock to keep all of us happy. We all deserve starting spots."
Considering a couple of years ago he thought his career might be over, White-Frisbee is mostly happy just to be in the conversation.
"I've never actually had a solid year," he said. "I came in my freshman year and I didn't know what the hell I was doing. Then I moved to offense and I didn't now what the hell I was doing. This is the first year I know what I'm doing."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 10:18 PM
Washington State's Klay Thompson will play Thursday against Huskies