They are alike in so many ways.
They both were gridiron greats at Rhinelander High School. They both have went on to play and start for Michigan Tech. They both are upper-echelon mechanical engineering majors. The list could go on and on.
For the White brothers, Keith and Chet, there is so much in common that it leaves one to wonder if there is anything much different about them at all.
One difference is that Keith is an established star wide receiver for the No. 24 ranked team in Division 2, while Chet is just starting to make a name for himself as an up and coming redshirt freshman safety.
But what else is different about them?
“Of all the things, I’d say their demeanor is quite different,” Cindy White, the boys’ mother said.
She mentioned that their personalities are prototypical of the positions they play on the football field.
“Keith is more calculating, just like a wide receiver might be. He goes about his business quietly and is a methodical, pure-thinker about most things,” she said.
“Chet is just the opposite. He does things on the run and in more of a spur-of-the-moment fashion,” she said. “Very much like a defensive back, he reacts and analyzes things quickly.”
The Huskies are off to a 2-1 (3-1 overall)
record in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic conference (GLIAC). This includes a nationally-televised 47-21 road victory in front of 8,672 fans this past Thursday night against arch-rival Northern Michigan at the Superior Dome in Marquette, Mich.
They possess a very explosive offense, averaging over 38 points per game so far. Keith just happens to be a major cog in the Huskies offensive attack. Through four games, Keith has 26 catches for 449 yards (17.3 average) and a two scores. This includes a 67-yard bomb in the first half against NMU.
Husky head coach Tom Kearly knows a thing or two about offense. He is a former offensive coordinator from Central Michigan, a program that has yielded several NFL players.
“Keith has been a four-year starter here and has deserved every bit of it,” Kearly said. “I think coming into this year he was No. 7 on our all-time receiving list. Before he is done this year, he will easily crack the top five and already may be there.”
In 2007, Keith earned All-GLIAC honorable mention as a wideout. He also tied a school record with nine TD grabs on the season.
Kearly was also quick to mention Keith’s off-field attributes.
“He’s also a fabulous student,” Kearly said. “I’ll say this, there aren’t many athletes as good as Keith that can also be polished in the classroom like he is, too. He’s in that 3.8 to 3.9 GPA range, and, as an engineering student, that is really saying something.”
Throughout Keith’s college days, he has been a tremendous student. Last year, he was selected to ESPN the Magazine’s Academic All-District first-team and has been named to the GLIAC All-Academic team every year since he’s been in college.
In 2006, Keith gained the Omar LaJeunesse Scholastic Achievement Award for having the team’s highest GPA among non-freshmen.
Through four games, Chet has seven solo tackles, eight assists and three sacks. He has gradually gained playing time as the season has went on and is starting to make a name for himself.
“Unfortunately, one of our starting safeties injured his Achilles’ tendon pretty bad,” Chet said. “That enabled me to get more reps in practice with the No. 1 unit and has eventually led to more playing time. I’m just trying
to take advantage of my opportunity and help the team in whatever way that I can.”
While being a redshirt freshman takes much patience, it usually pays off in the long run.
“I knew that I was going to go through the redshirt process before I even got here,” Chet said. “It takes quite a bit of mental strength to be able to go through it. But I know that by the time I’m a senior, that extra year will pay dividends and then some.”
Chet explained the main difference of playing in college compared to his high school days with the Hodags.
“The speed up here is the first thing I noticed. It is just so much faster than at Rhinelander. Even though I was aware of that, the actual experience was an eye-opener.
Kearly likes what he has seen thus far in Chet.
“His learning curve has been tremendous,” he said. “He’s getting more playing time because of the injury and is our main nickel package guy, but it’s not by default –– he’s earned it. Before he’s done, I foresee him being the great player that Keith is now, provided his progress continues at its current rate. I see no reason why it won’t.”
And how is it to have a big brother on the team?
“Well, Keith kind of got me in the door here, but after that it was up to me to prove myself,” Chet said. “Then I had people that kept asking me, ‘Are you better than (Keith)?’
“That novelty wore off after not too long, and I knew I had to create my own identity.”
In most cases, a kid feels lucky to become a college football player. But, if all indications are correct, it appears it works the other way around in that Michigan Tech is lucky to have Keith and Chet White.
So, what is a "nickel package guy" anyway?