\Mike White #5 of the Jets reacts during the game against...

\Mike White #5 of the Jets reacts during the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.  Credit: Getty Images/Maddie Malhotra

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Mike White dreamed of being a starting quarterback in the NFL from the first time that he picked up a football, which wasn’t that long ago.

White only started playing football in high school. On Sunday, he will get his first NFL start when he leads the Jets’ offense on to the field against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"I’m starting an NFL game, so that’s pretty freakin’ cool," White said Thursday.

This surely will be a surreal moment for the 26-year-old White. A fifth-round pick of the Cowboys in 2018, White has spent much more time on NFL practice squads than on active rosters.

White joked with Jets backup quarterback Josh Johnson this week that he’s been in the NFL longer than White’s been playing football.

He made his NFL debut last week in New England after rookie quarterback Zach Wilson left the game with a knee injury. White was 20-for-32 for 202 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. With Wilson sidelined 2-4 weeks with a sprained right PCL, Robert Saleh announced Wednesday that White would start.

"It’s exciting," White said. "That’s what you grow up dreaming of as a little kid. That aspect of it there’s a lot of excitement to it. I’ve attacked this week as try not to make it more than what it is. We’re going out there on Sunday, I’m going to try and help this football team win and do my job."

It’s unclear whether White will be one-and-done or if he will continue to start until Wilson is able to return.

The Jets re-acquired veteran quarterback Joe Flacco from the Eagles earlier this week. Flacco hasn’t joined the team yet. Saleh said the excused absence is for "personal reasons." Saleh also said Flacco would be at practice Friday and didn’t rule out Flacco starting Thursday’s game at Indianapolis.

White, who played with Flacco last year, said Flacco’s presence doesn’t change how he’s approaching this game.

"As a backup whenever you get the chance to start, that’s always your chance to prove yourself," White said. "I don’t think Joe coming in changes anything. Joe was here last year. I have a great relationship with Joe, I’m excited to see him again, rekindle some stuff and talk crap to him about Ping Pong.

"I don’t think Joe coming in changes anything. I’ve told myself from the beginning of the week. I just want to go out there, do my job and help this team win."

White’s phone has been blowing up since Sunday with family and friends reaching out to congratulate him about his big moment.

One of the people White spoke to was Mets infielder Luis Guillorme. The two are both from Florida and played baseball together growing up.

Before White dreamed of an NFL career, he dreamed of playing baseball.

White was a standout pitcher for University High School in Fort Lauderdale and could have been drafted by a major league team. The Blue Jays called him when they were drafting in the 14th round in 2013. But White, who led University to a state championship in football, wanted to pursue football.

"I talk to all my friends who are in the major Leagues," White said. "It’s funny how growing up I was all baseball and then somewhere in high school I went football and everybody else kept baseball … When you look back on it and think back on it it’s pretty cool."

That journey began in 2013 at the University of South Florida. A change in the offense led to White transferring to Western Kentucky, where he threw for 8,543 yards and 63 touchdowns in two years.

The Cowboys drafted White 171st overall in 2018 and waived him the following season. The Jets signed him to their practice squad in September of 2019. They elevated him to the active roster a handful of times last year, but he never played before last week.

"There’s been a lot of ups and downs," White said. "I think personally I’m proud of how I handled it and persevered and kept continuing to work my tail off and get better and put myself in this situation."

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