Isaiah White is in a festive mood to start this season.
The Stony Brook senior feels “like a little kid on Christmas” and called the Aug. 29 opener against Bryant “better than any holiday, better than any birthday.”
That’s because the present he’ll get to unwrap that night at LaValle Stadium has been nearly three years in the making.
The Longwood High School product is back at running back for his final season after two years of playing on defense and one year of not playing at all. Now a captain, White hopes to be the next great Stony Brook ballcarrier as the Seawolves try to reach the FCS playoffs for a third straight season.
“My emotions are really high,” White said of his return to running back. “I’m trying to take it day by day, but I know the energy level is really there . . . I’m just excited. I’m honored and I’m blessed to have this opportunity, so I’m ready to go.”
White won Newsday's Hansen Award in 2014 as Suffolk’s most outstanding player after rushing for 1,948 yards and 28 touchdowns. He played running back for Stony Brook as a freshman, totaling 243 yards on 62 carries before a foot injury ended his season after just six games.
Defensive needs forced White to switch to linebacker before his sophomore season. He played mostly on special teams, recording 15 tackles (two for loss), one sack, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery in 29 games. He was named second-team All-CAA as a specialist in 2017, his junior season.
It was after that season that coach Chuck Priore decided to switch White back to running back. With the Seawolves already having a pair of senior backs in Donald Liotine and Jordan Gowins, White redshirted, giving him a chance to watch the “Long Island Express” and get re-acquainted with the intricacies of the position.
“Good people and great kids allow you to take something they love, which was running back, and move them to linebacker,” Priore said. “So he was really excited about coming back to the offensive side.”
White said he finally has started to come into his own after it took some time to shake the rust off and get his old running style back. Now, the preseason All-CAA selection is excited to follow in the footsteps of Liotine, Gowins and every other former Seawolves running backs such as Brock Jackolski, Miguel Maysonet and Stacey Bedell – both on and off the field.
“I actually watched Brock back when he was in high school because he played with my brother, and then my dad used to take me to watch Miguel play at Riverhead,” he said. “So I’ve seen them play, especially when I was little. I’ve seen Stacey play, I’ve seen a lot of the kids play that came before me. I know their game, I know how they like to approach the game, I know their running type. And when things got bad, they were the ones that the team looked to. So it’s just a mindset of preparing, especially being a leader, being a captain on the team. It’s just something that you kind of have to just fit into – that’s your role, so you’ve got to fit into that role and you’ve got to take it with ownership and leadership.”
The rest of the Seawolves’ offense has taken notice of White’s abilities.
“Isaiah is one of the best leaders on the team and one of the best guys I’ve been around,” said offensive guard Kyle Nunez of East Islip. "Everything he does, he leads with example, so if he says something, he means it.”
They’re excited to see what White can do with the ball in his hands, too.
“This skill that he has, he’s one of the most talented players that I’ve ever seen,” Nunez said. “I really think he’s going to open some eyes this year.”