LenDale White, RB, USC Trojans
by Bryce McRae
on February 14, 2006 @ 16:00:00
For the past three years, University of Southern California RB LenDale White has been the thunder to his partner, RB Reggie Bush's lightning. While Bush was garnering all the headlines (and Heisman Trophy), White quietly was racking up a career that was almost equally impressive. The Denver native was never the No. 1 running back on the Trojans roster, and, for most of his career, he has taken a back seat to Bush. However, in career rushing yards he only ranks 10 yards below Bush and he compiled more rushing touchdowns over his career (52) than any Trojan has in the school's history. For his career, he piled up 3,159 rushing yards, 331 receiving yards and 57 total touchdowns.
When White arrived on campus in the 2003 season it was to less fanfare than what was directed upon fellow freshmen Bush. White would go on to set a USC freshman record for most touchdowns in a season (13) and would place second on the list for most rushing yards by a freshman. This all came without starting a game, as he was mainly a sub for Reggie Bush and then-returning starter Herschel Davis. This would set White's role as career backup at running back but what a backup he was.
White runs with power, which was the perfect counterbalance to Bush's speed and elusiveness. While some have concerns over how Bush will hold up at the pro level there are no concerns with White, who weighs in at 235 pounds and stands 6-foot-2. He also has surprising speed for a man his size. Think of him as an Eddie George-type running back, circa 2000.
White has also shown up for the big games, garnering three touchdowns and 124 yards in this year's Rose Bowl loss against the Texas Longhorns. As well, you can count on him to hold onto the ball, as he never gave up a fumble in his college career.
White's biggest plus side would have to be his nose for the end zone. While he doesn't have the breakaway speed of some running backs, when he gets near the end zone he has the ability to find a way into the end zone no matter what. That is something you can't teach. This was shown by his 52 rushing touchdowns over three years, an average of over 17 per season.
One of the knocks on White is that he has not been a great receiver out of the backfield. Prior to this year he only had 17 receptions for 112 yards, although three of those were for touchdowns. This season he managed 219 receiving yards on 14 catches giving him a phenomenal 15.6 yards per reception average. However, it is unknown whether this was more a product of playing with the Heisman Trophy winner or his own skill.
Which leads us to other knocks on White, being: he has never been a feature back in an offense and has played for one of the most dominant teams in college football history. What will happen when White is put on a team that is not expected to win, and where he is not surrounded by all-star players playing inferior competition? While one would like to think he will succeed, it is still unknown how he will fare in an offense where he is the focal point.
White figures to be a first-round draft pick this year in what will be a deep draft at running back. With his teammate Bush most likely going first overall, it would be surprising to see him fall below either the Arizona Cardinals who pick at No. 10 or the Minnesota Vikings who pick at No. 17, both teams which could be looking for a running back of his caliber. It is entirely possible due to the Vikings' salary cap situation (nearly $24 million under the cap), and the plethora of free-agent running backs on the market this year, the team does by-pass drafting a running back in Round 1. Surely, if he does slide to the end of the round, the Carolina Panthers would warmly invite him with open arms.
Either way, there is no way White should fall out of the first round and come draft day, one team will be very happy with their future at running back.
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About Bryce McRae
Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.
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