Legendary Mustangs 3-sporter returns as head football coach
By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist
Mullen has reached back into some of its glory days for a new leader of its football program.
Vincent White, a legendary Mustangs student-athlete and figure from the late 1970s who also played collegiately with John Elway and the old Denver Gold of the United States Football League, has agreed to become head coach. He was a unanimous choice of the school’s search committee that received nearly 70 applicants.
“I’m excited, I’m very excited and I think it’s a great opportunity,” White said.
He takes over for Tom Thenell, another Mullen alumnus who resigned in January after six seasons.
It was important, White said, for him to return to Mullen. He wanted “to come home.” White has extensive coaching experience in college and when the Mustangs job came open “it piqued my interest, very much so. Sometimes you know when the timing is right … I always talked about (coming home).”
His appointment has sparked interest on campus and attracted interest throughout the area.
“Mullen High School is excited,” athletic director Vince Massey said. “We welcome Vincent back home with open arms and are excited to move forward with him at the helm. His accomplishments in the sport of football speak for themselves.”
Fittingly, one of the school’s most well-known graduates also will head the Mullen Alumni Relations Department, President and CEO Carl Unrein said, “and I share the athletic-department enthusiasm in welcoming Vincent back to serve Mullen. Vincent’s knowledge and commitment to the Lasallian Mission, developing students on the athletic field and long history of interacting with families will enhance our ongoing relationships with decades of Mullen alumni.”
White will begin his alumni duties on Friday.
Said Janell Kloosterman, Mullen principal: ”I am looking forward to Vincent White coaching the X’s and O’s of football, and also teaching our young men what it means to be Lasallian. Vincent White will be a transformational coach in the lives of our young men and serve to support not only the athletes under his charge, but the whole of the Mullen Lasallian community.”
Elway, speaking at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, said of White: “He was a great player. He had great speed and was a really good guy. It’s great to hear that he’s back in Denver and he got that job. It will be interesting to see how he and (new Valor Christian High coach) Ed (McCaffrey) do.”
Said Mullen junior quarterback Dom DePIzzol: “I’ve heard nothing but great things about him. I understand this was a desired spot for him. I’m excited that he wants to be here.”
As one of the first African-American teenagers from the Park Hill area to attend Mullen, White moved on from Gove Junior High and enrolled as a 10th-grader in 1976, back when it was an all-boys school of about 300.
“I loved it there,” he said of a Mullen campus that only had two buildings.
Mullen associate AD Duan Ruff, also an alum and who followed White’s path from Park Hill, said “Vincent White understands what it means to be a Mustang. He embodies it, he lived it as a student and he can communicate that experience to the current student-athletes at Mullen.”
A 5-foot-8 running back who starred in the Police Athletic League. White first played with the Mustangs and the likes of coaches Ed Kintz and Dave Sidwell. He excelled and was a big part of Mullen’s 1978 team as a senior that capped a state title (Class 3A) on the road in Montrose. He also starred in basketball and as a sprinter in track.
Most importantly, White said, he embraced the academics offered at the school and went on to Stanford, where he played in the same backfield with – and was a favorite target of — Elway. All-Pac -10 Conference, All-America honorable mention and a sixth-round draft choice of the New York Jets, White actually left the Cardinal a year early to play for the Gold and his coaches included Red Miller, Craig Morton and Mouse Davis. He later returned to Stanford to earn a degree in sociology.
White has had several stops on the college trail, most recently as associate head coach/offensive coordinator at Delaware State. He had been making a considerable commute from his home in Pottstown, Pa. He and wife Jennifer have three children – Isaac, a sophomore at Malvern Prep, Pa., who plays football and basketball; Avery, an eighth-grader who plays basketball and soccer; and Ashly, a fifth-grader who plays basketball, soccer and lacrosse. Not surprisingly, White proudly said all three offspring also excel in the class room.
“It doesn’t get any better than Vincent White,” first-year Mullen boys basketball coach Bob Caton said.
Busy familiarizing himself with the 5A landscape and building a staff that will include his younger brother, Brian, also a Mustangs alum, White will take over a program that was 5-6 in 2017 and dropped a first-round playoff game at rival Regis Jesuit in Aurora. The Mustangs were 34-31 under Thenell and their best mark during his tenure was 9-3 in 2016, losing at home in the quarterfinals to Cherry Creek.
From 2016-17, White was surprised to learn Mullen was part of the controversial big-school waterfall outlay, another change in the classification plan that bypassed traditional leagues in all other sports and was based on recent, average performance. It has since been scrapped.
Beginning in 2018, the new two-year plan has Mullen in a Class 5A six-team league with Jefferson County schools. The Mustangs will be with Arvada West, Columbine Lakewood, Pomona and Ralston Valley.
No matter where the Mustangs play, White said, he’s thrilled to return to Colorado as well as to the special place he said helped him understand how to excel, beginning as a teenager. Now, it’s his turn to give back to a special place.
“I think it’s great,” White said, “especially when you get young men and can make a difference.”
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