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ASU Football: 'Summer of Legends' No. 33 Wilford White

Arizona State's first All-American takes his rightful place in our "Summer of Legends" series.

Wilford White needed at least two defenders to contain him at all times.
Wilford White needed at least two defenders to contain him at all times.

The Backstory: The Sun Devil football program has always been blessed with great competitors. Most of the competition has taken place on the football field, but we've also seen some fierce battles for spots in our "Summer of Legends" series.

Some choices are obvious, while others have inspired debate, but at No. 33, competition simply does not exist. That's because only one Sun Devil ever wore 33, and only one ever will.

Arizona State has retired five jersey numbers, and Wilford "Whizzer" White was the first Sun Devil to ever receive the humbling honor.

The Player: Wilford "Whizzer" White (1947-1950)

When Wilford White stepped on campus at Arizona State, the Sun Devils were still awaiting their first superstar. The program had enjoyed success in its first few decades of existence, but as college football came to the forefront of American life, Arizona State needed a game-changer.

That's where White stepped in. The all-world athlete brought blazing speed to his local university, and his natural football instincts made him a two-way star. After making a cameo on the field in 1947, White became a regular starter as a sophomore.

In 1948, White rushed 109 times for 539 yards, but he also made plays through the air. On offense, White caught 19 passes for 337 yards and on defense White intercepted three passes. His 11 total touchdowns earned him First Team All Border Conference honors and the respect of his entire team.

The following season, White practically equaled his numbers as a receiver with 334 yards, but he stepped up his rushing game in a big way. Though he only carried the ball 145 times, he rushed for 935 yards and averaged 6.4 yards per carry.

Despite vast improvements as a running back, White knew he was capable of so much more. As a senior, White mesmerized the Sun Devil faithful by running for an Arizona State record 1,502 yards. It took 22 seasons for Woody Green to finally supplant White in the record books, but amazingly, White is still one of just two Sun Devils to cross the 1,500-yard milestone.

In rushing for 1,502 yards, White managed an incredible 8.3 yards per carry and 17 touchdowns. One of the most impressive parts of White's 1,502-yard total is the fact that the Sun Devils played just 10 games that season.

Ultimately, White's senior season would go down as one of greatest any Sun Devil player would ever enjoy. His 2,065 all-purpose yards place him atop the Arizona State record books for a single season, and helped make him an All-American selection.

White's name graces the Sun Devil record books, and it will continue to be the only name to ever grace the maroon and gold No. 33.

In the Pros: Even with incredible college numbers, plenty of NFL teams passed on White. It took until the 3rd round of the 1951 NFL Draft when the Chicago Bears decided to make White a professional football player. Unfortunately, White's career was cut short after two seasons by a devastating injury.

Fortunately for the Sun Devils, White would continue to bless the program. His son Danny became a quarterback at Arizona State, and you'll have a chance to read about him later in our "Summer of Legends" series.