NFL: White proving himself again
NEW YORK ó Patrick White has been playing quarterback since seventh grade and prefers to keep it that way.
It’s hard to blame him, really. Coming out of high school in Daphne, Ala., a bunch of Southeastern Conference schools told White that he couldn’t play quarterback for them. Then he became a star at the position for West Virginia.
When his four years were up in Morgantown, the Mountaineers were 34-8 in games White started. He broke 19 school, Big East and NCAA records, and became the first quarterback to start four bowl victories in college football history.
But White did much of his damage to defenses with his legs, running for 4,480 of the 10,529 total yards he gained. Having ‘most prolific running quarterback in major college history’ on your resume doesn’t do much to convince NFL scouts you’re ready to call signals on Sundays.
All that speed and elusiveness in a 6-foot-1, barely 200-pound package made White look like a prime candidate to make the switch to receiver, the way dual-threat college quarterbacks such as Washington’s Antwaan Randle El and the New York Jets’ Brad Smith have in the NFL.
So after all White has accomplished, the question he faced coming out of high school is still dogging him as he prepares for an NFL career: Can Patrick White play quarterback at the next level?
The doubts don’t frustrate him.
“I kind of knew I was going to get it,” he said in a recent phone interview. “Just trying to work to prove them wrong.”
He’s been doing a good job. The first two rounds of the draft are Saturday at Radio City Music Hall in New York, and there’s a chance White won’t have to wait until Sunday, when the final five rounds are held, to hear his name called.
“I feel like I’ve opened eyes,” White said. “Have I opened the right eyes? We’ll see. I’m just hoping they give me a chance.”
White has two things working in his favor come draft day.
First, there are no longer questions about whether he has NFL-caliber arm strength. White finished his career with the best passing performance of his career, throwing for 332 yards in a 31-30 victory against North Carolina in the Meineke Bowl.
The left-hander followed that up with an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl and topped it off by whipping the ball around Lucas Oil Stadium at the scouting combine as well as any quarterback in Indianapolis that week.
“Early in the season, I respected his athletic ability, but he really wasn’t that good a passer, in my estimation,” said Gil Brandt, an NFL draft consultant and longtime personnel director for the Dallas Cowboys. “He improved dramatically. Against North Carolina he was really, really good. At the Senior Bowl he was really, really good.”
The biggest concern is his size.
“He scares you in this manner: Quarterbacks now have become 6-4, 6-5, and 230 pounds, 240 pounds because they can take a hit,” Brandt said. “He’s not that strong-looking guy that you envision being able to hold up as an every down player at quarterback.”