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Photo by LaizurePhoto
White and Vermeil talk about first day of rookie camp
Former Sooner Heisman winner works out for Chiefs

Former Oklahoma quarterback Jason White participated in the initial session of Kansas City's three-day rookie camp Friday. The following conversations took place after White had gone through an hour and 15-minute workout at the Chiefs' practice facility.

Q: How did it go out there today?
WHITE: It went all right. We ran a bunch of new plays, new system, new coaches, but I think it went well as far as picking everything up and kind of starting over in a new system. It just takes a while to learn and hopefully I’ll give it a shot throughout the rest of camp.

Q: Were you surprised the Chiefs invited you to camp?
WHITE: I was surprised. I had kind of already marked off the whole football thing already back in Norman. So I was surprised that they called. But I thought, ‘What the heck? What’s it going to hurt to come up for a weekend?’

Q: How do you not put so much pressure on yourself to earn a roster spot?
WHITE: All I can do is the best that I can do. If it isn’t good enough to play here, then I don’t deserve to play here. I’m going to give it my best shot this weekend and see where it goes from here.

Q: What was the last week like for you with the draft and after the draft?
WHITE: It was frustrating. Not being drafted didn’t frustrate me that much. But not getting a free agent deal kind of frustrated me. But I was just looking for an opportunity and the coaches here and the organization here decided to give me a shot. I’m grateful for that shot.

Q: What do you feel like you need to show to demonstrate that you can play in this league?
WHITE: That I can just play. That I can play at this level and make the throws that NFL quarterbacks throw. That’s all I need to show is that I can play at this level. If I can do that then maybe I’ll find a spot. If I can’t then I don’t deserve to find a spot.

Q: Is there any one criticism that strikes you the most?
WHITE: I think more than anything it’s the knees. I played for two years without them being hurt and pretty much every team that I talked to said, ‘Hey look, you may not even pass our physical.’ So that was disheartening.

Q: Did any other NFL teams contact you?
WHITE: I had a few people contact me, but that wasn’t until late. I didn’t have anybody contact me until Tuesday night. So I had pretty much written off the NFL thing.

Q: Do you like what you see when you look at this offense?
WHITE: Yeah, it’s a very balanced offense; much like what we ran at Oklahoma. I enjoyed learning the playbook last night and this morning. Trying to learn it anyway. But I enjoyed it and it looks like it is a quarterback friendly offense.

Q: Do you feel like if given a shot, this is where you belong?
WHITE: That’s not my decision to make. That’s the coaches decision, and it probably goes up even higher than that. But I know that I’ll feel better than if I look back in five years and say, ‘Hey, I had a shot to try and didn’t.’ But I got a shot and tried and we’ll see what happens with it.

Q: Do you think you can play in the NFL?
WHITE: Yeah, I think, not just walk in and play next year, no. But just like in college, it took me three years to adapt to the college game, so it will probably take me awhile to adapt to the pro game.

Q: Did you know QB James Kilian before this weekend?
WHITE: We had met a bunch of times at different banquets. He was a great player at Tulsa. He’s a hard worker and he’s the kind of kid you want on your team.


DICK VERMEIL
Rookie Camp
April 29, 2005

Q: Your first impressions of the rookies?
DICK VERMEIL: I think they had fun. It was only an hour and 15 minutes (practice). When you have to tell them to back off the intensity you know they’re having fun. They get excited and the tempo gets going faster than you’d like it to, so you have to slow them down. Overall, they did a good job.

Q: What’s your sense about Jason White?
VERMEIL: There’s so much pressure and evaluation going on for a young man like him. He’s just one of the 42 kids that are here working out and learning. The quarterbacks go to throw the ball and the receivers go in the wrong direction and that makes it a little tough on the quarterbacks. I thought he did fine.

Q: What about Kilian, the other quarterback from (Tulsa) Oklahoma you drafted?
VERMEIL: It’s their first morning. They’ll be a lot better by Sunday. We’re not spending that much time on the field. They get four hours in the meeting room and an hour and 15 minutes on the field. But they’ll get an introduction and we’ll get a chance to evaluate and send them in the right direction.

Q: As advertised, Boomer Grigsby seems to bring a lot of energy out there.
VERMEIL: Yeah, you can see that he’s energetic and athletic and what’s very apparent to is Derrick Johnson’s athleticism. See how he moves so gracefully and chases things down. You can see all those skills.

Q: Is this kind of like Christmas morning when you open up your toys?
VERMEIL: Not really. Like I told them, they went for an hour and 15 minutes and the first morning of training camp they could be in pads for two and half hours and then come back in the afternoon and do the same thing again. It’s a big difference. There’ll be more players too. But this gives them an introduction.

Q: Do you sit and evaluate and watch tape after Sunday and maybe bring guys back for training camp?
VERMEIL: Sure. Ronnie Cruz came out of this program and was on our practice squad. Richard Smith suited up for the Denver Broncos game last year. He came out of a try-out. I’m sure there will be a few kids who we will end up signing out of this group, but it’s really too early after one practice to start guessing who it will be.

Q: Are there more guys than usual at rookie camp this year?
VERMEIL: There’s a few more than last year, but this is just the second time we’ve done (a rookie camp). We kept the rookies with the veterans in the past. We decided to bring them along a little bit slower so when the veterans come in for camp they’re caught up a little bit.

Q: What is it you’re looking for in a player?
VERMEIL: The first thing we want to see is the kids we drafted. The second thing we want to see is the kids we’ve already signed as college free agents. Then, the other thing we want to do is see how the kids we haven’t signed move and learn and can react in non-contact type drills.

Q: This is important for them, right? Would you expect them to maybe a bit nervous?
VERMEIL: Sure. There were some kids who you can tell were very nervous. They ran out of gas before they even get going, and they’re in good shape. They’re exhausted. Nervous energy.

Q: Does Jason White find himself behind the eight ball so to speak, with only two quarterbacks here and he’s the one who was invited and not drafted?
VERMEIL: We brought him in to give him a workout, expose him to the National Football League. If we don’t sign him, it exposes him to the rest of the National Football League. Everybody in the National Football League has seen Jason White play a lot of football — a lot of football. He won the Heisman Trophy because he was a great college football player on a great football team. So, he deserves the right to come into a training camp and work, and also evaluate himself.

Q: Do you expect to take three or four quarterbacks to training camp?
VERMEIL: Four.

Thanks to the University of Oklahoma Sports Information Department and the Kansas City Chiefs for supplying the rookie camp conversations.