Washington senior linebacker Scott White showed up to the first practice of a new year Tuesday expecting to work with the starting unit at outside linebacker.
It's what he has done the past two seasons when he started all but one game, giving him 20 for his career — the second-most of any UW position player.
Instead, he found himself relegated to the second unit behind junior Dan Howell, and White said Wednesday he's not happy about it. Unhappy enough that he said he might consider quitting the team and giving up his last season of eligibility if he can't accept his role with the Huskies this year.
"Having my degree [in American Ethnic Studies] already kind of gives me a little more contentment with the whole situation [and] having the ability to walk away from it all," White said. "I'm not saying that's what I want to do, but it's about buying in, and if it's a role that I can't accept, I'm not going to be a burden on this football team. I'm not going to be a distraction. So if that's the role and I'm not happy with that role, that's something I may consider."
White says he doesn't understand why he's not the starter anymore and says coaches haven't given him much of an explanation.
"This kind of came out of left field," he said, adding the only reason he has been given is that he is "being evaluated."
Coach Tyrone Willingham was vague when asked about the position, saying only "it's pretty good competition."
Willingham did, however, offer some perspective on what might be going on in an answer to a separate question about positions that may be open.
"I always say that everything is up in the air, it doesn't matter who you are," Willingham said. "I think Isaiah [Stanback] is our starting quarterback. But if his performance doesn't dictate that, then the next guy, if he's playing well, gets the opportunity. And I think our guys are starting to understand if you are an All-American, you should perform and practice at an All-American level. If you are not and then the next guy comes on, then you are not an All-American anymore."
White has never been an All-American, but the 6-foot-1, 230-pounder has received some preseason all-conference recognition from a few magazines after ranking fourth on the team with 79 tackles last season.
He admittedly struggled through spring practice while bothered by a hamstring injury, and Howell was the starter for the spring game.
But White said he figured he was demoted because of the injury and that he would return to the No. 1 spot on the depth chart when fall camp began.
"To take a starting position, I feel like the other guy has to do something to warrant that and I don't feel like that's happened yet," White said. "I don't really want to stir the pot or be a distraction, but I just feel like I've been playing well and at a high level for the past two years and I come into my senior year and all of a sudden I'm not starting.
"I don't know if it's motivational or if they thought I wasn't doing a good enough job. I don't know. I felt like I was productive out there and doing my job."
Howell, a junior from Newhall, Calif., has played sparingly the past two seasons and has three career tackles. But he impressed coaches in the spring and was one of three players whom Willingham said played well in Tuesday's practice.
Those three, also including quarterback Carl Bonnell and defensive end Greyson Gunheim, were wearing gold No. 1 jerseys during Wednesday's practice as the top offensive, defensive and special-teams players the previous day. White, meanwhile, again worked with the second unit.
• Freshman quarterback Jake Locker, a Ferndale High star, said what might have been expected about his first day of practice. "Things happened a lot quicker and there were a lot more things to think about," he said. "There's a lot more mental aspect that goes into it now. That will probably be the biggest adjustment."
• Locker said he'd be fine helping out at another position after Willingham said Tuesday that could be a possibility. But Willingham reiterated that Locker is a quarterback first.
• Backup safety Darin Harris of Federal Way High School is not with the team while recovering from a back injury and will report when school starts, Willingham said. Reserve CB Clarence Simpson is also not with the team.
• Jordan Reffett, a junior defensive tackle, has an undisclosed knee injury.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com