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The Duality of Adrian White

Instant analysis - DeSoto cornerback Adrian White announced on Geoff Ketchum's radio show on Friday his intentions to become a Texas Longhorn, becoming the 20th commitment in the 2010 class and ending recruitment at the defensive back position. Five offers went out to defensive backs -- Lufkin's Carrington Byndom, Sulphur Spring's Bryant Jackson, Waco Midway's Ahmad Dixon, and Garland's Adrian Phillips, an athlete who may get a chance on the offensive side of the ball, but projects much better as a defensive back. The Longhorns have gotten almost everyone they offered so far, but have unbelievably batted 100% on the defensive backs.

Dixon and White are the jewels of the group, with Dixon by far the best safety in the state and White one of the best, if not the best, cornerbacks in the state. Gerry Hamilton says that White is "widely considered the best cornerback prospect in the state," though Geoff Ketchum ranked Carrington Byndom ahead of White in the last LSR.

One coach who recruited White is a fan ($):

He has a chance to be the best defensive back in Texas. He's a kid that's committed to being a great player and that's what turned me to him. It matters to him. He's a great athlete that can do everything from the physical side. It doesn't surprise me that he ended up at Texas and I'd guess he'll do very well there.

Typical of a "Mack Brown type of kid," White trains hard off the field ($) to improve his technique and speed, working out twice a week with Super Bowl MVP Larry Brown and gold medalist sprinter Jon Drummond, while also running track for DeSoto.

The same work ethic extends into the classroom, with White earning a 3.5 GPA and graduating in December to enroll early at Texas. Whether in the classroom or in shorts training during the offseason, White is clearly intent on doing everything he can to earn early playing time at Texas.

It's not a recent phenomenon ($), either, as White's father, Adrian Sr., understood that his son needed early exposure and preparation to not only maximize his natural abilities, but also to gain the attention of the top programs in the country. To those ends, the senior White hired his son a personal trainer as a sophomore and began traveling the combine circuit, earning attention as early as his sophomore year.

And finally, word from White on his haircut ($), which I recently called an abomination -- a patch in the front and the rest shaved:

When I was little I used to run track and the first meet we ran in Houston somebody had this haircut and I liked it and I never got another haircut. I've had this haircut since I was 8 or 9. It gives me a little edge.

Maybe when he gets to campus Greg Timmons can start working on him about getting a high-top fade instead -- as long as he doesn't look like a tree stump.

Instant scouting report - In the early part of the recruiting process, everything about Adrian White sounded positive -- he performed well in all the combines and played well enough on the field to earn raves as the best shutdown corner in the state and one of the best in the country. As the process has moved along, some mitigating concerns have come to light.

Skyline's Mike Davis, certainly not the fastest of the receivers in the 2010 class, but one of the biggest vertical threats with ball skills to boot, torched White to the tune of five catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Of course, Rivals being what it is, there isn't any film on the internet of that performance, but it was not a great day for the DeSoto product.

What Geoff Ketchum has seen leads him to call White a difficult prospect to evaluate:

The issue with White is that he hasn’t always been the guy that you’d hope he’d be when the pads and lights come on. His skill set is outstanding and there’s absolutely no question that he has the ability to be an elite performer.

On the combine circuit, White performs extremely well, but the game against Skyline and Mike Davis' performance illustrates the inconsistencies on the field, a duality that necessarily must be reconciled somehow, complicating the evaluation process for Ketchum and anyone else trying to make sense of Adrian White.

For players at small or private schools like wide receiver commit Ross Apo, their combine performances become extremely important in the evaluation process because they represent some of the only times those small school or private school players can compete against similar athletes. White plays against some good competition at DeSoto; in practice he goes against fellow Longhorn commit Darius Terrell, so he doesn't have as much to prove at the events, but he and his father understand the importance of competing against the best as much as possible. The side benefit for analysts is that White's work on the combine circuit provides another body of work to evaluate.

White wasn't just another body when he started out on the combine circuit as a sophomore, he consistently shines at the combines and camps -- one such performance for White came at the 2008 Forth Worth NIKE Camp when he became the only underclassman to win an award ($) at the camp (even Lache Seastrunk didn't win one), taking home the defensive MVP. And it wasn't only at the NIKE Camp that White performed well, earning second-team defensive back honors ($) at the Army Underclassman Combine, not as a junior, but as one of the few sophomores at the event.

At White's second Army All-American Combine ($), he ran a 4.5 on the notoriously slow Alamodome surface, one-tenths of a second higher than his reported 4.41 40 on his Rivals page. With the slow surface, it's not as much about how fast each player ran, but the group of players in which he finished -- White turned in one of the fastest times on a day in which even Lache Seastrunk, one of the fastest players in the state, ran in the 4.5s as well. In the drills, however, White only did enough to earn second-team defensive back honors ($) from Rivals for the second year in a row in a group that was among the deepest at the event, though Scout named him to their All-Combine Team ($).

After participating in a Texas camp last summer, White assessed his game ($):

I feel I'm pretty quick. I can be physical on the line and I have the speed to cover any receiver. I need to improve on my technique, my back pedal and my cuts.

White's physicality and speed weren't lost ($) on Sooner Scoop's Justin McCuistion, watching White on the combine circuit:

White is very physical at the line of scrimmage, repeatedly knocking receivers to the ground with his initial pop. White showed nice recovery speed and most of all the kind of attitude that generally separates a good corner from a great one; his problems didn't linger and if one mistake took place he was right back in against the receiver that beat him.

Gerry Hamilton draws similar conclusions:

He's a really physical corner who comes up and plays the run. He also has the hips. He has recovery speed. He has those qualities that all the top programs are looking for across the country.

White can effectively press receivers at the line of scrimmage because of his upper body strength and recovery speed. Texas rarely plays zone coverage, so having cornerbacks who can step up to the line of scrimmage and match up physically with big receivers is a necessity.

A few articles out on White list him at 190 pounds now, which I don't find believable -- his last combine measurements came almost a year ago at the Forth Worth NIKE Camp, where he stood 5-10.5 and weighed 170 pounds. Comparing pictues of him at the time and more recent pictures, it doesn't seem possible that he could be at any more than 180 pounds right now, still with room left on his frame to develop.

It's clear from all the reports that White plays with a physicality when jamming receivers and looking at him, it must come from a wiry strength. Since he runs track for DeSoto, trains with a former Olympic sprinter, and works on technique with Larry Brown, it doesn't sound like White spends a lot of time in the weight room. As an early enrollee, Whtie will maximize his opportunity to play as a true freshman after going through spring practice, but he will also likely need that time in the weight room to get stronger.

As Ketchum mentions, White's senior season is as important as any of the current recruits. Instead of simply measuring well at the combines and in drills, White has to make that production transfer to consistent effort and success on the field, reconciling his dual and dueling evaluations from his work on the field and at combines and camps. He certainly has the physical ability and a great tutor on technique -- it's time for him to put it all together as a senior.