Dewayne White has spent a lot of time on football fields in the course of his life.
This year is no different. Well, maybe a little different.
White, who played in the National Football League for seven years, the final three with the Detroit Lions, will be donning a Northville Mustangs hat this fall.
An inside linebackers coach for Northville, White, 31, got his first taste of action during football camp this week.
“They’re full of energy and excitement, to say the least, the kids are, so I think it’s going to be a good year,” White said.
“This is what I love. I love being out here. I’ll pick the pads up and every once in a while I want to hit the bags like I used to. It’s like a habit. I love teaching kids the things that I know. I try to explain it in depth and give them a 360-degree view of the whole game.”
White and his wife, Melissa, settled in Northville when he left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to join the Lions in 2007.
“I have four kids and this is a good family neighborhood and a great school system,” White said. “And there’s a great sense of community also.”
White co-owns a real estate business, Re/Max Dream Properties, in downtown Northville. And Northville High School happens to be about two minutes from White’s house, a convenience that helped make coaching possible.
“With the newborn, I wanted to kind of stay close to the house, so this kind of fit both parameters of coaching and staying close to the house,” White said.
“I’m coming along, learning names and learning each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s a learning process. You have to remember some of the kids have never played football or just have one year. You’ve got to keep your mind on what their knowledge of the game is also.”
Northville head coach Matt Ladach said he got a phone call recently from athletic director Bryan Masi, who said a former NFL player living in the community was interested in joining the program.
“I talked on the phone with Dewayne and we sat down and met and I was very impressed, very impressed just from the onset,” Ladach said. “He’s a tremendous character guy. We’re fortunate to (get him on our staff) and we’re glad he’s diving in head first.”
Ladach said White will be receiving a small stipend for his services and will be working closely with Darrel Schumacher, who is the co-defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach.
“It’s been fun, he’s really a positive influence and a positive man,” Schumacher said. “He is such a family man and really dedicated to his family and that’s why he’s staying with us. It’s a great place for kids to grow up and that’s why he’s sticking his roots in. He wants to be part of the community and I think that’s great.”
White has made a good impression on the student-athletes as well.
“It’s pretty awesome,” junior David Borthwick said. “He’s a really good coach. He knows what he’s working on and he’s doing a great job so far. I like him a lot.”
“It’s a privilege to work with somebody so experienced,” added junior Grant Miller.
White was drafted by Tampa Bay in the second round in the 2003 NFL draft. He played four seasons with the Buccaneers before signing with the Lions in 2007. White struggled with injuries in 2009 with the Lions and was cut in March of 2010.
“You’ve got to know when your time’s up and be able to move on,” White said. “I love it. I wish I could’ve played another year, but everything happens for a reason, I believe.
“This was the time for me to move on and really help some kids develop as men, help them grow as young men and help them with their football careers.”
White, whose children range in age from 8 years old to six weeks, said he and his wife thought about leaving Michigan when he was released from the Lions.
“The thing was we had already established ourselves within our community,” he said. “To have the kids leave their friends, they have a bunch of friends ... I grew up with the same friends all my life and we’d like to give our kids the same opportunity that my wife and I both had growing up in the same area.
“So we just decided to do that. We didn’t feel there were going to be any benefits moving back, starting over, new house, new neighbors, when we’re at a good comfort level already.”