MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Rangy, fast and capable of easily out-leaping cornerbacks, Kevin White’s junior college highlights seemingly show a high-impact recruit who will inevitably become a starter at outside receiver next fall.
Yet barely halfway through spring drills, the West Virginia newcomer hasn’t earned anything yet, a point emphasized by receivers coach Lonnie Galloway after Thursday evening’s practice.
“I don’t want to toot Kevin’s horn right now because he’s been practicing seven days,” Galloway said. “He has made some plays in practice, but right now he’s just one of the guys. We’re expecting him to do great things, but he’s just one of the guys in the group learning.”
The 6-foot-3, 211-pound transfer from nearby Lackawanna (Pa.) College may be the most physically gifted player at his position. Now comes the transition process of learning the Mountaineers offense and showing his coaches he can perform against major-college defenses.
“He’s what you’re looking for: big, athletic, can run, tall, catches,” Galloway said. “You’d take five or six Kevin Whites. But playing Big 12 football coming from junior college, who knows what’s going to happen with him?”
Per WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen, early enrollees such as White are off limits to the media during spring practice.
Simply because he’s small, elusive and played frequently as a freshman, Jordan “Squirt” Thompson is drawing some unfair comparisons to departed All-American Tavon Austin. While Thompson has as good a chance as anyone to become WVU’s top inside receiver, the notion he’s ready to produce anything close to Austin’s senior-year total of 114 catches is far-fetched at this juncture.
“He’s showing a lot of progression,” Galloway said. “But as far as him being the next one, there’s only one Tavon, and we all know that. Squirt will do what he can do, and Jordan should be Jordan and not try to be anyone else.”
Reserve quarterback Logan Moore began working with the slot receivers this week. The 5-foot-11 junior, who sat out last fall after throwing for 3,546 yards and 31 touchdowns in two seasons at Division II Fairmont State, doesn’t factor into WVU’s quarterback plans behind Paul Millard, Ford Childress and freshman Chavas Rawlins.
“He said, ‘Coach I want to do whatever it takes to get on the field,’” said WVU receivers coach Lonnie Galloway. “So I grabbed him out of a meeting with Shannon (Dawson) and the quarterbacks and said, ‘Come with me.’
“The first time he had to block was on Tuesday. I asked him if he ever blocked before, and he said, ‘Nah.’ But he’s competing hard, and being a quarterback, he knows the offense.”
Dawson suggested the move could be permanent. Of the other five inside receivers, only Thompson (13), Conner Arlia (seven) and KJ Myers (two) have any career catches.
“We put (Moore) out there a couple times with no reps and no meeting time, and he did some good things,” Dawson said. “He’s a smart, athletic and competitive kid. Why not give him an opportunity to get on the field?
“Moving from quarterback to receiver, with an athletic kid like that, is not a huge step. I played my whole career at quarterback, and then my senior year of college I played receiver. You should understand the spacing, and he’s picked it up well.”
EARLY PROJECTIONS FOR 2013
Starters: White and sophomore Dante Campbell (who’s out for spring with a shoulder injury) are my picks to start on the outside, with Thompson and sophomore Myers manning the inside spots. At 6-foot-2, Myers is capable of being a swing guy and moving outside as well.
Top backups: True freshman Daikiel Shorts should benefit from enrolling early and contribute on the two-deep, while redshirt freshman Devonte Mathis figures to be in the rotation. Arlia has enough toughness and savvy to be a factor as well.