RIDGELAND, Miss. (WLBT) - Nobody on the Ridgeland High School football team knew who David White was last summer.
“We thought he was Dana White’s brother from the UFC,” remembered Titans junior receiver Richard Mays.
While not the brother of the UFC president, White was once an executive for the organization. It’s one of the many things that the well-traveled football coach has done over the years. His latest stop coming in Mississippi where White took over as head coach at RHS last Spring and, in one year, he has already led the Titans to its first winning season since 2013.
“I guess it looks like I’ve been bouncing around,” said White, who is also the Titans athletic director.
That is a bit of an understatement.
Before his time at Ridgeland, White previously served as the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Nevada. Before that, he was on Bob Stoops’ staff at Oklahoma after building up Bishop Gorman High School to the preeminent football power in Las Vegas, NV. Other stops for White include a stint traveling the country working for the U.S. Army All-American Game and even some time as a comedian on a cruise ship.
All of those previous jobs have helped mold White into the coach he is today and, in turn, lead Ridgeland to new heights in 2019.
“It’s just great experiences and we’re only on the earth one time,” White said. “I can tell these kids stories for days about heartache and disappointment and all of this other stuff. Not a lot of people have those experiences and I want them to learn from that and succeed.”
But it does beg the question, how does White - a self-described ‘Forrest Gump of football’ end up at a school he didn’t know existed before this year in a state that he had no previous connection to?
The answer is a simple one.
“It’s a sleeping giant,” White said of Ridgeland’s potential. “Everyone I talked to told me that if you get the right person in there and hit the right buttons, then it could be one of the more successful programs in the state.”
A former high school and college quarterback, White has quickly made an impression on RHS junior Zy McDonald.
Through 10 games this season, the Titans quarterback leads all of MHSAA Class 5A with 2,594 passing yards to go along with 18 touchdowns. The fast-talking, full-of-life White coming to Ridgeland was a shock to the system for the easy-going McDonald. But after working out with the new coach for one summer, McDonald and the rest of the veterans quickly bought in.
“It was different because he came in with the mindset of a college coach,” McDonald recalled. “It was hard at the beginning but we adjusted to it on the fly and we knew it would work out.”
That summer also saw White come in and revamp pretty much everything associated with the programs. Whether he was pressure washing the walls of the athletic facility at seven in the morning, or painting the walls of the weight room, White wanted to make sure that he was giving his players and coaches all of the advantages possible before they even set foot on the football field.
“The foundation was here but it was just time for a face lift,” he said.
And with that foundation now improved upon, White has even higher aspirations for the Titans in the future.
“Now we have something to be excited about,” said White. “I see ourselves [competing for championships] within the next three years. I really believe that and that’s the reason why I’m here.
“I wanted this job and I wanted to be a part of the change.”