MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Will Grier, yet to play a down as West Virginia’s quarterback, inspires optimism across the program and unbridled giddiness in some pockets.
Kyzir White arrived to similar expectations last year.
Like Grier, he essentially had a position reserved for him. White arrived from the juco ranks of Lackawanna last summer implicitly recruited to command the Spur safety spot that gives verve and versatility to Tony Gibson’s 3-3-5 stack. An opportunity enticing enough that he declined USC and Penn State to follow two older brothers at West Virginia.
Though he started fast and made seven tackles against Missouri, assignments didn’t always makes sense to White, who admitted, “I didn’t necessarily think I knew what I was doing.”
By the fourth game against Kansas State, when White surmised “I finally got the hang of it,” he recorded his first sack and West Virginia eked out a 17-16 victory.
Late-game drama also ruled the day at Texas, where White did his part to salvage a 24-20 win by flattening Shane Buechele on a strip-sack in the red zone.
That became White’s favorite hit of a season in which he made 58 tackles, seven TFLs and forced two fumbles. His impact mitigated only by a late-season broken hand that cost him a chunk of the Iowa State game and sidelined him the following week against Baylor.
His 6-foot-2 and 225-pound frame puts White in the overlap of NFL safety or outside linebacker, though he prioritizes next season over dreams of the playing at next level.
“I’m not thinking about my NFL position. I’m thinking about my college team and winning,” White said.
Among the four-man contingent representing WVU at Big 12 media days next month, White categorizes this offseason as one of intense peer pressure — the good kind — where players compete in the weightroom and conditioning drills.
“You might look to your left and you see a guy doing a lot of weight, so you want to push yourself more,” he said. “Because you don’t want to look unmotivated.”
Both Grier and White make appearances in today’s Gold & Blue Lunch Report, as our countdown the Big 12’s Top 50 players with spots 10-6.
Previous — Big 12’s Top 50 players: 15-11
11. West Virginia safety Dravon Askew-Henry
12. Oklahoma linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
13. West Virginia running back Justin Crawford
14. TCU running back Kyle Hicks
15. Kansas defensive end Durance Armstrong
Previous — Big 12’s Top 50 players: 20-16
16. West Virginia guard Kyle Bosch
17. Iowa State receiver Allen Lazard
18. TCU receiver/returner KaVontae Turpin
19. Kansas State offensive tackle Dalton Risner
20. Texas defensive tackle Poona Ford
Previous — Big 12’s Top 50 players: 25-21
21. K-State cornerback DJ Reed
22. Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson
23. Oklahoma guard Ben Powers
24. K-State defensive end Reggie Walker
25. Oklahoma safety Steven Parker
Previous — Big 12’s Top 50 players: 30-26
26. Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews
27. Baylor defensive end K.J. Smith
28. Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise
29. Texas running back Chris Warren
30. Baylor linebacker Taylor Young
Previous — Big 12’s Top 50 players: 35-31
31. Texas defensive end Malcolm Roach
32. Baylor running back Terence Williams
33. Oklahoma State offensive tackle Aaron Cochran
34. Oklahoma State receiver Marcell Ateman
35. Kansas State quarterback Jesse Ertz
Previous — Big 12’s Top 50 players: 40-36
36. Oklahoma State receiver Jalen McClesky
37. Oklahoma linebacker Caleb Kelly
38. TCU safety Nick Orr
39. Texas quarterback Shane Buechele
40. West Virginia cornerback Corey Winfield
Previous — Big 12’s Top 50 players: 45-41
41. Texas Tech receiver Keke Coutee
42. West Virginia linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton
43. Oklahoma receiver Jeff Badet
44. Oklahoma State linebacker Chad Whitener
45. Kansas running back Octavious Matthews
Previous — Big 12’s Top 50 players: 50-46
46. West Virginia receiver Ka’Raun White
47. Kansas State running back Alex Barnes
48. Oklahoma State safety Ramon Richards
49. TCU quarterback Kenny Hill
50. Kansas State receiver Byron Pringle