Mars grad White juggles roles with USFL’s Breakers
The way Matt White sees it, he has three different helmets.
“I have my kickoff helmet, I’ve got my punting helmet, and I’ve got my field goal helmet,” said the 2014 Mars graduate and utility specialist with the United States Football League’s New Orleans Breakers.
Every time he trots out to boot the ball, he visualizes himself wearing one of them, which goes a long way in helping him compartmentalize his multiple duties.
But, really, it’s nothing new to White. He kicked field goals, punted, and kicked off for four years at Mars. He did the same at Monmouth, where he graduated in 2018.
“He’s a special case,” said Matt Butterfield, who is White’s position coach with New Orleans. “He’s talented. He’s got a special leg and he takes pride in his work, too. I’ve never worked with a guy who could do both kickoffs and field goals and punt. It’s pretty impressive.”
He took a winding journey since then to arrive in Birmingham, Ala., where all the USFL’s games are being played this season.
“It’s been a rollercoaster,” said White, who has since worked with different personal coaches to sharpen his abilities. “I was able to learn a lot and absorb like a sponge in the ocean the vast knowledge of how technical punting and kicking is.”
Not long after his college pro day in 2018, he attended the New York Giants’ local day. He worked out for the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Jets before taking part in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ minicamp. He spent time in the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger Cats’ preseason camp last year.
He worked part-time at an insurance company during that stretch, too.
“A lot of the time, the people who can make it are people who face the adversity of going through workouts,” White said. “Things might not go your way. You might have the best day of your life and things still might not end up in your favor. But at the end of the day, you get back after it, and don’t let it discourage you.”
White said it’s a blessing to be with New Orleans, who is currently 3-1 heading into Saturday’s matchup with the New Jersey Generals.
“My team has just been amazing,” White said. “Offense, defense, we hold our own. I really believe that we’re the best team in this league.”
He wants to be known as the USFL’s premier punter. As of now, he has a net average of 41.8 yards on 16 punts, tops in the league. For the first time in his career, he’s holding for the placekicker, also.
“It’s a thankless job,” Butterfield said. “They only notice you when you make a mistake … Matt does a phenomenal job. He’s a team leader, he’s a captain for special teams, and he breaks down the huddle every single time.
“He does everything you ask. He’s the epitome of what you want in a teammate.”
White aims to climb to the game’s highest level on his professional career path. He’s aware that specialists focus more on one thing there, so through constant repetition, he’s found that he’s most comfortable as a punter who can kick off.
“I think Matt has the opportunity to (reach the NFL),” Butterfield said. “He’s one of the better punters in our league.”