When Keland White stepped onto the College of the Canyons campus this spring, it marked his third junior college in a span of seven months.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound running back began his collegiate career at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas but quickly transferred to Mendocino College in Ukiah, California.
For the Lakeland, Florida, native, living alone in the middle of Kansas wasn’t exactly a desirable situation.
White received regular playing time at Mendocino but was struggling financially and, to make matters worse, the school shut down the football program following the season.
Yet again, White needed a new football home.
To find that home, he leaned one of his best friends from Lakeland, RB Marlow.
Marlow, White’s teammate at Lakeland High School, had just finished his first season with Cougars when he let coach Ted Iacenda know there was a high-caliber running back looking for a new team.
“We always wanted to play together in college,” Marlow said. “We’ve known each other since middle school. I knew he was struggling up (in Mendocino) so I just wanted to do whatever I could to help.”
Iacenda had recruited White before he decided on Coffeyville and called the decision to add him to the roster a “no-brainer.”
“There wasn’t really doubt about going to another new school,” White said. “I put this on myself, and I was honestly just thankful to get another chance.”
The thanks is all College of the Canyons’.
He’s been an integral piece amid the Cougars’ 4-1 start, leading them with 436 yards on the ground and is tied for third in the Southern California Football Association with six rushing scores. He was awarded the SCFA Northern League Player of the Week after rushing for 136 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Long Beach City College on Sept. 23.
“He is 200 pounds and he runs like the wind,” Iacenda said. “He’s also a smart football player. He came in during the spring and learned our offense and all of our running game concepts and all our pass-protection concepts.
“He’s a unique player in that for most guys, it takes some time to get into an offensive system and learn all the ins and outs.”
It’s no coincidence White’s ascent has occurred in a place of familiarity. He shares an apartment with Marlow, along with wide receiver Leroy Deshazor, who also went to Lakeland High.
“It feels like at home in our apartment,” White said. “We laugh, we play video games together. It’s great. Back home, this is who I would hang with. It’s really like I’m home here in Cali.”
Marlow noticed a difference in White as well. It also wasn’t too shabby looking across the line of scrimmage and seeing a familiar face in the backfield.
“He’s excited to come to the field and come to the building,” Marlow said. “I remember the second game (this season) when he scored his first touchdown — that definitely brought back some memories.”
The duo, along with Deshazor, have done their part to bring Lakeland slang and customs to Santa Clarita.
“It doesn’t happen a lot when you get three kids from the same school across the country like that,” said Iacenda, who’s in his ninth season with Canyons (fifth as head coach). “They’ve acclimated beautifully.”
After this season, White will be in search of his fourth collegiate football home, and will be seeking out an NCAA-Division 1 school.
White has yet to receive an offer, but Iacenda had little hesitation when offering what kind of schools may be interested down the road.
“Without a doubt, he’s a big-time (Power Five) running back,” Iacenda said.