Football is known to be a game of inches. Tim White's road to the Olympics follows the same path.
3 and a half inches.
This distance is what separates the Sun Devil from qualifying to the U.S. Olympic Trials in triple jump. The wide receiver in football jumped a career best 16.57m (54-4½ inches) on Friday during NCAA Outdoor Track Championships in Eugene, Ore. to earn an excellent fourth place.
According to the USATF, qualifying standards for the Olympics in triple jump are set at 16.66m (54-8 inches). Tim White did not check this box, but more importantly, his best jump in Eugene was the 12th best U.S. performance this year. And the top 24 jumpers are slated to compete in the trials.
Tim White can still dream about the Olympics. The way he has come to this point is even more impressive.
"What Tim has accomplished this outdoor season is nothing short of amazing," ASU coach Greg Kraft said. "He was in spring football for basically the entire outdoor season. He was only able to get three full-run triple jumps in at the Pac-12 Championships, where he finished second. Tim then gets two weeks of practice in before winning the West Regional. Then he gets another two weeks of practice before finishing fourth in the country.
Complete a full season of college football, barely practice an extremely demanding triple jump technique and still end up with the fourth place at the NCAA Outdoor Track Championships is already an accomplishment in itself.
Now, three triple jump spots need to be filled before the Rio Olympics in August.
Tim White's best jump is not enough to meet the standards, and he's still far from the top of the U.S. triple jumpers who jumped over 17m in 2016. But his quick improvement should open up his future.
The rising senior will start in September his last season of college football with the Sun Devils. Afterwards, will he chose to pursue his NFL dreams or could he hope to become one of the best triple jumpers in America?
He is good enough for both, but professional football would (obviously) bring more money into his wallet.
Tim White has proven to be a fabulous weapon on the gridiron. He is returning to ASU as their best receiver, and caught 633 yards, 8 TDs despite a period of adaptation coming from junior college the year before. He has the potential, athleticism and talent to find a spot in the NFL. A 1000-yard season in 2016 with the Sun Devils would solidify his professional future in football.
But Tim White has another stop in mind before September: the Rio Olympics. Preparing his last season with ASU will come later.