1975 Dallas Cowboys Player Rankings: #21 Randy White
The highest-ranking member of the Dirty Dozen draft class on this countdown list, Randy White’s rookie season in the NFL was a circuitous adventure that saw the Outland Trophy winner at defensive end for Maryland – and heir-apparent to middle linebacker Lee Roy Jordan with the Cowboys – play six different positions along the Dallas front-seven. And along the way, he earned a reputation for not only playing the part of a tough guy, but looking it as well.
When White, the Cowboys’ No. 1 selection in the 1975 draft, was spotted on the practice field for the first time in early spring, a few of his new teammates wondered aloud if the front-office had mistakenly picked the Hulk instead. Officially, White was given credit for being a 6-foot-4-inch, 250-pound country boy, but even in shorts he looked every bit of a Texas-sized football monster.
“Charlie Waters says Randy’s the only guy he’s ever seen with four legs,” said Jordan during spring practices. “He has legs coming out of his shoulders.”
This half-man half-monster phenomenon was soon-after dubbed “The Manster” and played his way onto the field by with a unique display of strength and versatility. The experiment at middle linebacker fizzled out during the latter stages of preseason, as White continued to struggle with the nuances of the position. Sometimes White was slow to the ball, other times he overran the play. Most common was a tendency to simply think too much, which often led to hesitation in middle of the play, like when White was steamrolled by Rams running back Cullen Bryant during the preseason opener.
To start the regular season, White was a stand-up strong-side linebacker in certain nickel packages that not only provided head coach Tom Landry with an array of coverage options, but confused opposing offenses along the way. “They don’t know if we’re going to give them a four-0 or a three-2,” said Landry, “because White can either rush as a lineman or cover as a linebacker.”
As the season progressed, Landry continued to invent different ways to get White onto the field., occasionally inserting him as a pass-rushing end or tackle on obvious third-down passing situations. All of this supplemented White’s regular duties on special teams, which helped to ease the pain of his newfound role as a part-time player.
Despite standing on the sideline more than he cared to, White maintained a positive attitude and maintained that he was staying ready for the moment when the Cowboys called his number. That moment came in a big way in Week 9, when White was given the majority of the snaps at defensive end while filling in for the injured Harvey Martin. White had a field day on the artificial turf at Schaefer Stadium, sacking New England quarterback Jim Plunkett three times to help Dallas break a two-game slide with a 34-31 victory.
“Things went my way a bit for a change,” said White after his breakout game against the Patriots. “The more you play the more you learn. I don’t care if I play up or down. I’m here to play where I’m needed…It sure is different when you are in there on every play instead of just going in certain situations or for specialty teams work.”
And though he returned to the bench the following week, White’s play continued to improve down the stretch. During one of the more remarkable playoff runs in franchise history, Randy recorded a sack in all three games, including a takedown of Terry Bradshaw in Super Bowl X.