MONTGOMERY – There was only one major hurdle left for Brady White and the Memphis quarterback delivered in his final game as a Tiger.
White threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns in the inaugural Montgomery Bowl on Wednesday night, leading Memphis to a 25-10 win over Florida Atlantic at Cramton Bowl. The win helped the Tigers snap a five-game losing skid in bowl games and hand the Owls their first-ever postseason loss in their fifth bowl appearance.
For White, it was a fitting end to a long collegiate journey. He will leave Memphis as the most prolific passer in yards and touchdowns in school history as well as the winningest quarterback ever in a Tiger uniform. He will add Montgomery Bowl most valuable player to his list of accolades after shredding the Owls’ defense in impressive fashion.
“It feels great,” White said. “Another piece of history was made tonight for myself and this team. I’m extremely proud of our program and everything that it took – this whole weird year – in this game. We finished it off right, we’re bowl champs and it feels good to walk out of here with the ‘W’ and the trophy.”
The Newhall, Calif., native started his career at Arizona State in 2015-17, then followed head coach Mike Norvell to Memphis, where he stepped into a starting role in 2018-19 and added to those accomplishments in 2020 as Ryan Silverfield took over for Norvell, who left for Florida State.
White could have returned for a seventh season – NCAA rules permit a return in 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic – but confirmed after the bowl he would be leaving with an eye on the upcoming NFL draft.
“The NFL is the next step, that’s the plan,” White said. “I’m going to start training, so I’m excited for that, to see what God has in store for me.”
After a redshirt season in 2015 and injury-plagued years in 2016 and 2017, White got a fresh start at Memphis in 2018 and made the most of it, throwing a school-record 90 touchdowns and for a school-record 10,690 yards, breaking records set in 2004 by Danny Wimprine. He also posted 28 wins in three years, beating the school record of 23 set by Lloyd Patterson in 1975-78.
Off the field, he earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Arizona State in 2017, a master’s degree in sports and leisure commerce from Memphis in 2019 and a PhD in liberal studies from Memphis this year.
“My time here at Memphis has just been special,” he said. “It’s a special city, a special program. No one truly knows what it’s all about unless they’re around it. To have the opportunity to be the quarterback here with this awesome team, this awesome program, to have done what we’ve done over these last three seasons, a lot of people wouldn’t even have thought of that. We set the new foundation moving forward.
“The football speaks for itself, but I hope I walk out of here having positively impacted more people than I can think of and hopefully made a positive influence in their life or given them hope or excitement or joy. And hopefully establish what the culture is on this team and how that’ll be carried out over many years to come.”
White was part of a Memphis squad that was clicking in all three phases of the game, finding its long-lost running game in the process while putting together a good defensive performance to hold the Owls in check.
“Our O-line stepped up huge,” White said. “We ran the ball really well, had great pass pro. I was clean the whole night. Obviously, the rest of the crew made plays on the outside and the running backs ran the ball well. I’m extremely proud of the way we won that game.”
White had plenty of praise for his offensive line after an illegal procedure penalty resulted in White being knocked to the ground by a Florida Atlantic defender, which nearly touched off a brawl as the offensive linemen came to his aid.
“That means the world,” White said. “That shows that there’s really strong relationships between myself and those boys and they’ve got my back. I told them right away, even though they knew, I appreciate you guys and I love you. A play like that speaks volumes over a pass play. That shows the brotherhood I have with those guys and the brotherhood on this team, so I’m grateful for the five up front that sacrifice a lot for myself.”
Silverfield offered a similar assessment of his quarterback after the MVP performance in the bowl.
“He’s just been top notch and that’s kind of the key to this whole thing,” Silverfield said. “He’s meant so much to everybody. He does it the right way. He’s a legend. The highest honor I could ever pay a young man is if I ever had a son, I hope he’s like Brady White.”
White struggled to find the right words to express his feelings after hearing of Silverfield’s comments.
“That means the world to me because football is going to end,” he said. “To hear that a coach would want their son to be like you, that means a whole lot. It makes me want to be emotional, thinking about that. That is a humongous honor.”