Hello: Austin White

Submitted by Brian on July 15th, 2009 at 10:45 AM

Austin White is a 6'0", 180 pound tailback from Livonia, Michigan, who's just committed to Michigan. Google, I stalk with it.

austin-white

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN
4*, #17 RB 3*, #32 RB 77, no position ranking

White first served notice he'd be a Big Ten level recruit at a camp shortly after his sophomore year:

A future Rivals100 candidate Austin White of Livonia (Mich.) Stevenson put on a show at the camp.

Claiming early oral offers from Michigan and Michigan State White, a running back, was asked several times to go up against the top linebackers in the camp and every time he came out victorious in the one-on-ones. He was even held so bad on one play that his jersey almost ripped off, but it couldn't stop the 6-foot, 185-pounder from still making a big catch.

Michigan and State followed up with official offers the first day they could do so, at which point Helmholdt said people should expect White to be "one of the top running back prospects in the country" and "challenge for top honors" in Michigan's 2010 class.

As you can see above, that didn't exactly happen. Though White checked in fourth—ahead of Robert Bolden—in a February ranking of the state's top ten players, two of the three scouting services put White amongst the three-star rabble when it came time to assign the stars. (FWIW, he didn't he didn't miss four by much on Rivals.) While the third, Scout, has him well within their top 300 they also have him considerably lower than analysts suggested he'd end up after White's initial burst onto the scene.

Wha' happen? It appears White didn't end up as big or as fast as you need to be to end up an elite prospect. ESPN's middling evaluation touches on his "great receiving skills" but kind of sounds McGuffian in its concern for his head:

White is a productive, well-rounded back with good upside when projecting for the next level. Has a taller frame for a back and needs to watch his leverage but has good muscle tone and the room to add 10-15 pounds of bulk to increase his power and durability. … not a burner with a great second gear or overly explosive. For a bigger high school back he goes down frequently on first contact and legs can go dead when wrapped up. At times, his high running style hinders his balance, running strength and ability to avoid trip-up tackles. Durability could be an issue at the next level as well if he does not run more behind his pads. … could eventually develop into the complete package at the next level if he can add the bulk and power to carry the load.

The traditionally reserved Touch The Banner's scouting report also notes the receiving ability and says he has the tools to be a read option back or receiver in the spread offense, but says he's not a gamebreaker and that he lacks the "speed and moves to be a finesse rider." The upshot:

Projection: White will be a solid but unspectacular back in a BCS-level program.

Reminds me of: Jerome Jackson.

I always liked Jerome Jackson, actually, and think he might have established himself a decent starter if not for his incredibly ill-timed injury at the beginning of the 2005 season that opened the door for a guy named Hart. Jackson was reduced to playing Wally Pipp until he came off the bench in the 2005 Iowa game.

I'd love to hear Scout's more positive take, but there's not much explanation behind their rankings. His profile is all you get:

An explosive back who can be used in a variety of roles. Has great feet and change of direction ability and makes many people miss in the open field. When he finds a crease, burst and acceleration are good and has breakaway capabilities. Is a fine receiver out of the backfield and has experience playing slot and split.

White might have some upward mobility yet after a positional MVP performance at the Illinois Nike camp:

White was the top running back at the camp. He flashed his excellent speed, has a powerful looking frame and can catch the ball. White, who has a dozen scholarship offers including Michigan, Michigan State, LSU, Illinois and Wisconsin, left no doubt on Saturday that he is a Big Ten-type prospect.

Helmholdt on the same camp:

Livonia Stevenson’s Austin White took home the MVP honors at the running back position with considerable ease. The 6-1, 185-pound White was nearly unstoppable in the one-on-one portion of the camp, using his speed to outrun would-be defenders. White’s footwork and agility in the drills portion of the camp also solidified his MVP honors.

We'll see that take effect, if it does at all, in the next Rivals re-rank. If he doesn't bounce up there he's a three-star unless his senior year is preposterous.

FWIW, recently the News named him the #2 playmaker on the West side of Metro Detroit going into 2009—Devin Gardner was #1, obvs—stating he is "one of the most dynamic running backs the last four years or so."

OFFERS

White's picked up an impressive but not quite world-beating assortment of offers: Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan State, LSU, and Iowa are the most prominent.

STATS

His junior year landed him on the Free Press's All West team, which gave them cause to sum the stats:

Austin White, Livonia Stevenson: One of the most dynamic backs in the state, White rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore and this season he became a more complete player. He rushed for 1,610 yards and 28 touchdowns on 228 carries. He returned nine kickoffs for 279 yards. White also had 21 receptions for 310 yards and four touchdowns. He even threw a touchdown pass. "It's almost like there's nothing he can't do," coach Tim Gabel said.

FAKE 40 TIME

What's the deal with the lack of fake 40 times of late? Not one article had a preposterous listed speed that would put a high school kid on par with Usain Bolt. All I've got is a camp-measured 4.58 from the Scout profile. What happened to the 4.16s of yesteryear?

VIDEO

This is a Livonia Stevenson highlight reel, not an Austin White one, but when you run for 1,600 yards your team's highlights tend to feature you heavily:

There is also the "Hammertime Play of the Week" from some week in the past. Please, Austin, don't hurt 'em.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

My thinking in this case has really latched on to TTB's Jerome Jackson comparison. And I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. Jackson was similarly sized and a mid-to-low four star on Rivals—I don't recall his Scout ranking. And while he wasn't Mike Hart he had a promising freshman season and once inserted into the lineup in that Iowa game he proved effective, far more so than Grady, at least.

White's a guy that most of the Big Ten wanted; the lone exceptions were Penn State and Ohio State. Add in the LSU offer and that's a serious argument White can be a productive back at the Big Ten level. His less than ideal size and speed combo would ideally see him function as the second back in a platoon system headed by a star back.

White's versatility will serve him well, though. He can function as a multi-purpose player that opponents will have a hard time preparing for when he comes in the game. Put him in space against a linebacker and it's advantage Michigan; line him up in a twin back set with a pounder like Minor or Cox against a nickel or dime and it's advantage Michigan.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

I addressed this in detail just yesterday, but to repeat: Michigan loses three tailbacks and Michigan's got two or three replacements in the class now. They'll be very picky the rest of the year, with Eduardo Clements and Brandon Gainer the only folks who seem like they'd be offered a spot no matter what. (If Brennan Clay decides to ditch Oklahoma, add him to the list.) Your Jamaal Jacksons and Cassius McDowells are out of luck.

Etc.: Tom VanHaaren interviews White.

Comments

Big Boutros

July 15th, 2009 at 2:32 PM ^

The first time I saw it, I happened to be on MGoBlog at the same time. Since the video doesn't really have any context, I decided that these guys are in fact excited about a guy committing to Michigan. Observe:

"Now we're talking, video started! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAH!" - The excitement begins as Hyundai Guido removes the lens cap. Player X has just committed to Michigan! Whoa!

BICEPS FLEX, followed by: "WAAAAAAAOW! I'm ready! Are you ready? ARE YOU READYYYYYYYYYY?!" - The anticipation of Player X's contributions to Michigan Football builds within the car as the reality of Player X's awesomeness sets in.

"Going D'Jais in my car! B-E-L! M-A-R! WOOOOOO!" - The Guidos burst into a heartfelt rendition of Guido Central High's fight song, hearkening back to their athletic days of glory.

"Gotta get the hat on!" - Passenger Guido is excited about Player X's upcoming appearance at the US Army All-American game, where, in keeping with tradition, he will eschew an LSU hat and a Miami hat in favor of the block M.

"Baby Blue, I see you two weeks, Baby Blue!" - Backseat Guido will be in Ann Arbor in two weeks to move into his new apartment; he's excited about seeing the new recruit in the flesh.

"You gotta be smiling, you gotta be dancing, you gotta be shaking that ass! You'd better step it up motherfucker!" - The Guidos wrap things up with Guido Central High's alma mater, "Step It Up Motherfucker."

El Jeffe

July 15th, 2009 at 11:12 AM ^

I complained about this a couple of days ago wrt the conflicting reports on Tate's arm strength. So... does White have good speed and agility, or not good speed and agility?

It's almost as if you have to trust the coaches' evaluations and not rely overly on scouting services or something.

Huh...

Don

July 15th, 2009 at 11:17 AM ^

There have been more than a few highlight videos I've watched here showing RBs repeatedly running past first and second and third contact, breaking tackles all over the place, yet inevitably someone is going to opine that said RB "goes down on first contact." It's like a Democrat and a Republican both watching the same clip of Sarah Palin.

Koyote

July 15th, 2009 at 11:20 AM ^

Well from watching the video

White appears to have:
- Good speed, but not break-away amazing
- Makes good smooth cuts
- Appears to have pretty good agility
- Good receiving skills

Overall looks like a pretty complete back. The type that you could feed the ball to over the course of a game and he would keep dinging the opponent for 3-6 yards a carry, with the ocassional long run thrown in. He gets to the second level a decent amount in highschool. Not sure if he will get those same type of chances in college. But when he gets there he can make people miss.

Don

July 15th, 2009 at 11:12 AM ^

he never got a lot of carries, but he always seemed pretty explosive to me. His carry avg is 5.0 per carry, which ain't bad. His biggest problem was Mike Hart ahead of him.

woodfeld

July 15th, 2009 at 11:30 AM ^

I believe this was mentioned on the Varsity Blue blog, but isn't there strong potential for White to be moved to the defensive backfield? I mean, if he has great hands and solid speed, couldn't he be a ball-hawking free safety? Considering we're so thin back there and have a plethora of options at RB, I'd almost like to see White on D moreso than at RB, especially if we add a Clements or Gainer.

SonoAzzurro

July 15th, 2009 at 12:30 PM ^

Wasn't it the one camp down in Ohio a couple months ago where White performed really really well as a safety? I'll be curious to see how RR will play his cards for the DB recruiting. Maybe they planned to move Jerald to safety, but he appears to be the best WR right now.

bronxblue

July 15th, 2009 at 11:30 AM ^

Looks like a decent back - and I agree with the Jerome Jackson comparison. I actually thought he would have been a decent back in the Big 10, kind of like a poor man's Anthony Thomas. Good yardage, wasn't going to blow you away, but the type of back that will get you through some games when the passing game is off.

As for White, I agree with Brian that he would best be served as a platoon-type back unless he gains some weight and can be featured as a "power" back.

I know this has been referenced in the comments of another post, but what led White to pick UM over MSU? I know that his receiving skills probably mesh better with RR's system than MSU's, but he sounds like a good fit for MSU, and obviously the family connection is there. I'm just wondering.

His Dudeness

July 15th, 2009 at 11:40 AM ^

I am his FB friend (note: I have never posted anything to him, it is weird enough I am a random high schoolers friend) and on a status update of late he said "I am falling more and more in love with OU everyday" when provoked about coming to AA by some random Wal-Mart he said something to the effect of I am going to Norman and Tate will do fine in AA. I don't see Clay changing his mind FWIW.

West Texas Blue

July 15th, 2009 at 12:26 PM ^

I always get a good laugh when someone says they are a player or recruit's Facebook or Myspace friend. Apparently the definition of friend has changed in the last few years. To me, a friend is someone I can call up and go and meet to have a beer, go to a football game, or ask to help me with some project. Sending messages to someone you'll most likely never meet or doing anything with doesn't constitute as a friendship.

Rico616

July 15th, 2009 at 2:02 PM ^

Being someones "facebook friend" doesnt make them a stalker for what you can see. You can be a facebook friend of celebrities, politicians, athletes, etc but it doesnt mean you two are homeboys. Some people use facebook to spread news and I'm sure some football players use it as a measure of their popularity. There is a deny function when someone tries to add you.

Damn quite tryin to pretend like you're the cool kid and looking for an excuse to bash on somebody. The guy was jst trying to give his input, you dont have to be a jackass about it.

WolvinLA

July 15th, 2009 at 3:08 PM ^

I don't think he was trying to be a jackass. In fact, I agree with him. I'm on facebook, but I'm not exactly a fanatic. I am "friends" on facebook with people I am "friends" with in real life. I think that makes a lot of sense.

I don't think he was saying that (whoever said they were friends with Brennan Clay) is a bad person, but that the definition of "friend" seems to have changed, or is a misnomer in the context of facebook. I also think it's likely that WTB and I are older than you and (whoever said they were friends with Brennan Clay) which is probably a large cause of this discrepancy.

West Texas Blue

July 15th, 2009 at 3:51 PM ^

Uh, okay. Just commenting on the evolving definition of "friend" and the way I still look at it. Pretty sure I didn't call anyone a "stalker." Still, not sure why anyone would want to be a Facebook friend of a recruit or player. I've read some of the stuff that these kids write, and I'm pretty sure 99% of the time it's not newsworthy.

JediLow

July 15th, 2009 at 8:39 PM ^

Wade Stahl - Senior RB

He's completely unranked and it doesn't look like he was recruited anywhere (Google didn't turn anything up, neither did Scout or Rivals)... looks like he was the second back behind White.

wadestahl

July 25th, 2009 at 4:53 AM ^

Well thank you haha.. I was being recruited mainly by Central Michigan and Grand Valley State. It was tough getting any looks being in the White brother's shadow my junior year and in Austin's shadow my senior year. I'm playing at Grand Valley State this year with my twin brother Wyatt Stahl #34.. to clear anything up lol