Five years ago, Darius White seemed on the path to football stardom.
He had a standout high school career at Fort Worth Dunbar, and was among the highest-rated wide receiving prospects in the country. But he never became the player most thought he would be in college, spending his first two years of eligibility at Texas and his final two at Missouri.
White, though, hasn’t given up on his football dreams. He is among the many players hoping to grab scouts’ attention this week at the College Gridiron Showcase. He will play for the Wranglers squad at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Maverick Stadium on the UT Arlington campus.
“I’ve got to try and get my name out there, get back on the map,” White said after a practice this week at Pennington Field. “I know I can still play ball and I’ve got to show it to people. I’m taking this week pretty seriously.”
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But what went so wrong in college that White is even in this position?
White opted to stay in-state when he went with the Longhorns out of high school, a signing that appeared to be a major coup.
After all, White had it all coming out of Dunbar — speed, physical skills, hands. He had 64 catches for 1,548 yards and 24 touchdowns over his final two seasons at Dunbar, and was named a Parade All-American as a senior.
None of that showed up at Texas. He had a total of six catches for 71 yards and one touchdown over two seasons in 2010-11.
“I really don’t know how to explain it,” White said, shaking his head. “I had so much attention in high school, but college is a totally different thing.”
White still has second thoughts about not taking a redshirt his freshman season. Maybe his road would have turned out differently if he had been a little more patient in adjusting to the college game and lifestyle.
“Sometimes I think I should’ve redshirted,” White said. “Just to learn more, learn the system, grow older. Sometimes I think about it.”
But he didn’t and he decided to transfer to Missouri for a fresh start. White even thought about pursuing basketball — he averaged 16.2 points as a senior for the Flyin’ Wildcats — after his Texas football stint didn’t go as planned, but felt football suited him best in the long run.
He sat out 2012 because of transfer rules, and then had a seven-catch, 76-yard, one-touchdown junior season with the Tigers in 2013. He put together his best season as a senior.
It didn’t blow anyone away, however.
White finished 2014 with 30 catches for 372 yards and four touchdowns.
Again, White doesn’t know how to sum up his Missouri days. Maybe he didn’t get as many opportunities to showcase his skills. Maybe he simply wasn’t in the right system.
“Some days I feel the ball should’ve come this way and some days it didn’t, but that’s not in my hands,” said White, who has been training at Plex in Houston since Missouri’s season ended.
“I just had to go out and play. Now I’ve just got to wait for that opportunity to come. When it comes, I’ve got to take it.”
The learning experiences in college should help White in his pursuit to find a professional career. He firmly believes he still has the ability and potential to play in the NFL.
White said his most recent 40-yard time was 4.47 seconds. If he flashes that speed again at Missouri’s pro day on March 19, he will surely find his way back on the radar.
Equally important, in some scouts’ eyes, is White limiting the number of drops that show up on tape and breaking away from press coverage better.
It’s something White is committed to doing in order to rebound from his disappointing college career.
“My mindset is to play in the NFL, that’s what I’ve wanted to do since my Dunbar days,” White said. “I’ve just got to get my name out there and get someone’s attention. All it takes is one person to get their attention.”
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760
College Gridiron Showcase
All-division all-star football game, 1:30 p.m. Saturday
Maverick Stadium, UT Arlington campus, 1307 W. Mitchell St.
Notable players: Tevin Mitchel (Arkansas/Mansfield Legacy), Darius White (Missouri/Fort Worth Dunbar), John Harris (Texas), Levi Norwood (Baylor), Cyril Lemon (North Texas), Antonio Johnson (North Texas), Floyd Raven (Texas A&M), Ricky Collins (Texas A&M-Commerce), Charles Tuaau (Texas A&M-Commerce) and Ashton Dorsey (Texas A&M-Commerce)