December 9, 2017 Happy Birthday Gerald White

1986 Michigan Football Team | bigbluefootballhistory.com
Gerald White (#22) is shown above with the 1986 Big Ten Co-Champion Michigan Wolverine Football team. White is seated in the front row – fifth man from the right. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

The purpose of today’s post is to wish “Happy Birthday” to Michigan Man Gerald White.  Gerald Eugene White was born on this day in Titusville, Florida. He grew up to be an outstanding football player at Titusville High School. Gerald finished his high school career as a state champion and a Parade Magazine All-American. Yes, he was good, really good! Gerald White could have played at many good colleges and universities, but he chose to play for Bo Schembechler and Michigan.

Gerald White Michigan Football 1986 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Gerald White earned four letters and played on Michigan’s 1986 Big Ten Co-Champion Football team. Photo courtesy of Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Gerald White arrived in Ann Arbor in 1983. He played enough in his freshman year to earn a letter, but he didn’t start any games. White started two games at fullback in 1984, but it turned out to be Bo Schembechler’s worst season at Michigan since the Wolverines finished with a record of 6 wins and 6 losses. There was plenty of work ahead for Gerald White and his teammates.

Gerald White earned the starting fullback job go start the season in 1985. He started every game on the Michigan team that really bounced back from the dismal campaign in 1984. The Wolverines ended the season with a final record of 10-1-1. They posted a final record of 6 wins, 1 loss and 1 tie which was only good for second place. However, they defeated an excellent Nebraska team in the Fiesta Bowl and finished second in the final AP and UPI football polls.

Like the Wolverines, Gerald White had an excellent season in 1985. He rushed 133 times for a career best 564 yards. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry and scored 7 touchdowns. He also caught 18 passes for 123 more yards and 4 touchdowns. Gerald also earned the Frederick Matthaei Award for his excellent leadership, work in the classroom and on the field.

Gerald White, and his teammates from the class of 1987, had won quite a few games from 1983 to 1985, but they had not won a Big Ten Championship. It was the “elephant in the room” since this would be Bo’s first class not to win a conference title. There was no pressure, but Bo would have to take his sign down if the Wolverines didn’t win at least a share of the championship in 1986.

Fortunately, that’s exactly what happened!  Michigan won seven games and lost one in the conference to earn a share of the championship. They finished with an overall record of 11 wins and 2 losses. Gerald’s production slipped a little, but he was solid once again as a runner, receiver and a lead blocker for Jamie Morris.

Gerald White vs Ohio State 1985 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

In 1985, Gerald White had the best game of his career against Ohio State in a 27-17 win. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan.

So, Gerald E. White had a very good run at Michigan. He finished with a total of 25 starts, four varsity letters, and a Big Ten Championship. Gerald was one of Bo’s “unsung” heroes because he did a lot more blocking than he probably thought he would when he came to Michigan. However, White was a wonderful “team player.” He was exactly the kind of player that Bo liked to have as his fullback. Gerald was also part of some notable Wolverine football “firsts” during his time at Michigan. Check them out.

  • In 1985 White was on the first, and only, team that beat all four rivals (Notre Dame, Minnesota, Michigan State, and Ohio State) in the same season during the Bo Era.
  • Gerald White played in the first ever game in the Big House that was under the lights in November 1985 against OSU. In fact, it was his best game as a Wolverine. Michigan won the game (27-17) and White rushed 29 times for 110 very tough yards.
  • White was on Bo’s first, and only, Fiesta Bowl championship team in January 1986. (Note-that team also finished 2nd in the nation at the end of the year which was the first, and only, time a Schembechler team was ranked that high at the end of the season.)
  • Gerald White played in Michigan’s first games ever against Florida State, Hawaii and Arizona State during the 1986 season.

Bottom line – Gerald White had a solid football career at Michigan. He became a champion just like Bo promised and left Ann Arbor with his head held high.

Happy Birthday Gerald White! Thanks for your outstanding contributions to Wolverine Football and to the University of Michigan. Hail to the Victors and Go Blue!

To read more about Gerald White go to the links below:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_White

http://bentley.umich.edu/athdept/football/fbteam/1986fbt.htm

Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher is a self-proclaimed Michigan Football Archeologist. He spends a considerable amount of his time digging into the 138-year history of Wolverine Football. He is on a mission to share his findings with Maize and Blue football fans everywhere. He is the author of one book about Michigan Football titled "21-194-13 Michigan Football's Greatest Era". His second book titled, "The Legend of Bo Schembechler-How an Unknown Buckeye Became the Winningest Coach in Michigan Football History" was released on September 12, 2017. You can learn something about Michigan Football everyday by going to his website at: bigbluefootballhistory.com. You can also follow him on Social Media.
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