Joe Sadlek/All-Pro Photography

West Virginia receiver Kevin White, after making 35 catches in 2013, hopes to ramp up his production to a level more in line with previous Air Raid receivers like Justin Blackmon, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.

 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Whether the source was West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson or receivers coach Lonnie Galloway, the refrain regarding Kevin White sounded similar:

“He has no idea how good he can be.”

White heard the expectancy and felt primed to make the leap from junior college, imagining himself following the likes of Crabtree, Welker, Blackmon, Bailey and Austin—hyperproductve Air Raid receivers who parlayed college success into NFL jobs.

Yet White’s first go-round at West Virginia was a transitional season tempered by lessons and lapses. He wound up with only 35 catches—one fewer than he posted as a sophomore Lackawanna College—and his self-evaluation was more telling than the statistics.

“Last year I just showed a glimpse. I’d catch a ball here or drop a ball there,” White said. “I was too inconsistent. Too many dropped balls and mistakes—running the wrong route, making the wrong release.”

BIG-TIME ADJUSTMENTS
There were nuances of route-running and more pre-snap reads to digest than White encountered in junior college. With Big 12 football requiring a deeper commitment, and the scrutiny amplified, a pleaser like White allowed the small mistakes that only coaches noticed to fester into bigger mistakes everyone saw.

Against Georgia State he dropped a screen pass that could have gone for a touchdown, and later was benched for the second half after bobbling a sure-fire score in the end zone. That followed a potentially game-changing fumble at Oklahoma after WVU had driven into the red zone.

“It was me not wanting to mess up and then actually messing up, because I was thinking too much,” he said. “Not wanting to let anybody down then letting them down and hanging my head.”

Coincidentally, in some of White’s quietest individual games, West Virginia’s offense showed promise. He made one catch for 17 yards in the 30-21 upset of Oklahoma State, caught one ball for 5 yards in the 30-27 win at TCU, hauled in two passes for 27 yards in a 52-44 loss to Iowa State.

A more confident and consistent White—excited to be paired with fellow senior receiver Mario Alford and eager to see Clint Trickett seize the quarterback job—aims to boost the Mountaineers’ passing game in 2014. He especially wants to do a more consistent job beating shorter cornerbacks for the 50-50 deep balls that eluded him last season.

“I’m smarter, can read the defense better, know exactly where I have to be, know how to recognize coverages,” he said. “I feel like my down-the-field presence will be a lot better. I’m able to track the ball more and I’m working on over-the-shoulder catches.”

TRUSTING IN TRICKETT
After a summer’s worth of 7-on-7 passing sessions, White has witnessed the restoration of Trickett’s arm strength following offseason labrum surgery.

“It’s better, a lot better,” White said.

Trickett lost zip on his passes after suffering a separated shoulder in the second half against Oklahoma State. He played through pain the rest of the season, occasionally drooping his right arm after hits, and some sideline throws became problematic.

“We knew it was tough for him,” said White, making a looping hand motion to demonstrate how Trickett tried to compensate by putting more air under his passes. “He couldn’t get it there on a line anymore, so he would try to throw it before we got out of our breaks.”

Those rainbow throws are no more, said White, recalling a recent pass Trickett fired through a narrow window.

“Last week I ran an inside route and sure enough I turned my head and he hit me right on time past the defenders,” White said. “I feel like he’s getting it back.”

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Comments

  • Mountain codger

    I feel sure that Kevin will improve greatly this season. As I believe the entire team will!! So much of it is still a head game, and if he has his head right there maybe a surprise in Atlanta. A lot of things have to go right but I believe they can match the mountains as old coach stew would say.

  • Headpopper33

    I think Kevin did a pretty nice job last year. I know he dropped some balls that should have been caught but I also think the stats don't show how good he really is. As I recall, he had to fight pretty hard to get to a lot of those balls. Many were underthrown and he had to fight through the defender to get back to them. Im not saying he is or was a finished product, but I think he is a lot closer than maybe he is getting credit for. Im looking forward to a big year from him.

  • SCOTT

    Mario Alford....FEED HIM!!!!

  • Alex

    This was what I was hoping for....

  • Alex

    The witness intimidation charges against West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood have been dropped, per Mitch Vingle of the WV Gazette. The sophomore prospect was facing up to two years in prison, but the murder case his case was associated with was pleaded out earlier today, likely leading to today's decision.

  • Jim

    Kevin, if you learn anything is summer I hope it's how to tackle someone. Dude, my little niece can bring more pain than you've shown! C'mon man!

    • d berg

      He is an offensive player, so he does not do much tackling.

    • Bob Smithers

      Why would a reciver need to learn to tackle ?

  • MountieFan16

    While I'm sure Kevin will have a better season, it's even more promising to hear that Clint has his arm back in shape. Just maybe the Mountaineers will be contenders....

  • FungoJoe

    Relaunch the Air Raid offense. What a laugh. You need a launcher for that. WVU possesses no such thing. WVU will bring a pea shooter to the Big-12 gun fights. I think we all know how that will end. 4-8 again.

  • any major dude

    Ditto to saying the right things and now go show it on the field.

  • JTL

    Time for talking is over... Put up or shut up on the field.

  • hailey

    I think Kevin is primed to be a real player this year. Last yr he was frustrating to watch, for every good play there were 2 drops. it is exciting to see all the athletes on this team. The real question is can the coaching staff inspire them to over achieve?

  • WVcoal

    Sounds good. You can talk a good game and play great in practice, but unless you can bring it to the game it means nothing really.

  • JH

    Kid is a physical specimen, now he needs to spend every waking moment studying film, practicing his routes, working with the JUGS machine and his QB for timing if he wants to have a breakout year and a possible NFL career. Work young man, work and good things will happen.

  • WVU FAN

    This is a team sport / game and this team wasn't ready to play in the Big 12, now who is to blame you might ask.... Everybody at WVU ...
    But with that said WVU is on the right track of putting all pieces together to step in too the lime light of the Big 12.
    Kevin White is a great looking athlete... I don't know his mental side and that will be tested right off the bat in our first game...
    The fumble against Oklahoma hurt but he wasn't the only one to hurt WVU's chances in winning that winnable game.... Let's GOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!Mountaineeeeeeeeeeeeeeeers!!!!!

  • goherdnachun

    Itz a perty dern good thing WVu ant playin the mity herd disa yeer. We fittin go underfeeted disa yeer by golly. How bout dat big mountaineers. hahaha youzin skeerd to play us disa yeer ant ya.

    • herd blows

      What language is that? Herd 0-12 and still irrelevant.

    • Who?

      I didn't know there was another team?