A groin injury and the COVID-19 pandemic set back Brandon White’s recruitment quite a bit. Now he’s playing catch up.
White, a class of 2022 wide receiver rated by 247 Sports as a low three-star prospect, isn’t the flashiest name available right now, but he’s absolutely one of the most notable, under-the-radar pass-catchers in the country. Not only does he have legitimate, elite speed on the gridiron, but he also has some interesting connections to Kentucky Football that could play into his recruitment by the time he makes a final decision.
On June 14, White announced on Twitter that he had picked up a scholarship offer from associate head coach Vince Marrow and the University of Kentucky coaching staff following an impressive camp performance that ultimately amounted to an unofficial visit. The Wildcats became just the fourth program to offer him–and the first from a Power 5 program–as the previous ones came from Akron, Marshall, and Bowling Green.
A little over a week after Kentucky jumped on board, West Virginia did the same, extending an offer on June 22 after White participated at camp in front of the Mountaineers. White also camped at Iowa State in early June, where he reportedly ran a 4.28 in the 40-yard dash.
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But don’t let his limited offer sheet fool you, White has “steal” written all over him. And if Kentucky truly wants him on board as part of the 2022 recruiting class, the ‘Cats have some extra ammunition to help with its efforts in landing him.
White is about to enter his senior year of high school at Archbishop Moeller up in Cincinnati, Ohio. If the name “Moeller” sounds familiar, that would be because Kentucky already has two former Moeller players on the current roster, Carrington Valentine (class of 2020) and Brenden Bates (class of 2018), with another one, class of 2022 tight end Josh Kattus, on the way. Could White be the fourth Wildcat from Moeller in as many years?
The head coach at Moeller, Mark Elder, spoke with KSR on Tuesday to help give the Big Blue Nation a better idea of who White is on the field. Elder was previously the head coach at Eastern Kentucky for four years before taking the job at Moeller ahead of the 2020 season. He believes that White will be a steal for whichever program lands him of his services when it’s all said and done.
“Brandon has elite speed,” Coach Elder told KSR. “It’s documented elite speed. 10.46 (seconds) in the 100 (meter), it’s fast. Across the country, he’s in the elite category as far as speed is concerned. I think Brandon is potentially faster laterally than he is straight ahead. Before he had his 10.46 times, I was telling people that I think he’s got just as much as wiggle and is just as fast laterally as he is straight ahead and that’s saying a lot when you run a 10.46. He’s really good in the short and intermediate, very very explosive, great with the ball in his hands.”
For someone who runs a 10.46 100-meter dash (and a sub-4.30 40-yard dash), one might expect White to be held in higher regard amongst recruiting circles. But there are a few aspects that have complicated his potential in the eyes of outsiders: a serious groin injury, only 50 snaps played during a COVID-19 influenced season, and a height of just 5-foot-9.
“He was injured last year, a groin injury that kept him from having the season we all wanted for him,” Coach Elder said about White. “He only played about 50 snaps. The good thing is it wasn’t an ACL or something that was a red flag. It was a legit groin injury, where Dr. (Timothy) Kremcheck–the (Cincinnati) Reds’ doctors–pulled him and said you can’t do it. That was unfortunate and I really think that Brandon would have a ton of more offers if he got to play a full season and demonstrate more because a majority of his game film is based upon his sophomore year.”
With all of that in mind, it makes a bit more sense as to why White never blew up on the scene last season and is only now picking up offers from Power 5 schools. Once he got onto college campuses, the coaches saw exactly what those inside of the Moeller program already knew.
“He’s gone to camps and when he goes to camps he gets offered because people see the skillset that he has, in person,” Coach Elder added. “He is going to be a really dynamic player for someone.
“[Schools] are filling up before they got to see him in person, before they got to get a good evaluation of him because he played–he probably played about 50 total snaps last year because he only played in two games. The places that he’s going, he’s getting offers and they see what he’s capable of. They have an opportunity to get a steal there.”
Kentucky could be the team to steal White if the staff chooses to do so. White is already good friends with Valentine, a rising sophomore defensive back who appeared in 10 games for UK as a freshman. Coach Elder believes that relationship played into White’s decision to camp in Lexington.
“We talked afterward and I know he was really excited about that,” Elder said about White camping at UK and picking up an offer. “I know him and Carrington (Valentine) are pretty good buddies, so that’s going to be a real positive for Kentucky as far as being able to land him. That draw will help. That was probably as big of a part of him wanting to go down there as anything, was that bond, familiarity with someone. Where he camped, he had connections to places. I think that’s a draw for kids.”
Looking down the road, Kentucky is still in the need of wide receivers. New offensive coordinator Liam Coen has placed an added emphasis on recruiting players with track star level speed and White is just the latest option, even if his overall size isn’t all that imposing at the moment.
“He’s not going to be the biggest receiver, but he’s not frail. He’s got meat on his bones, he’s got some strength to him,” Coach Elder added. “He’s not 135 pounds. He’s going to be able to take the hits and those types of things. His speed is what’s going to make him. You wouldn’t trade two inches and take off two-tenths of the 40 [yard dash] for him. It’s going to be his ability to create separation that’s going to make him the player that he is. It’s not like he’s going to go up and get a bunch of jump balls. That’s not going to be it. It’s going to be about finding a way to give him the ball in space to be able to do what he can do with the ball, which is to make people miss and separate.”
White’s recruitment might still be in the early stages. After missing the entirety of his junior season, there are going to be schools that like him but will want to see more. That’ll happen as he enters the fall and gets back onto the field. If his in-game speed matches what coaches have seen in camp and his catching ability holds up (he was Moeller’s leader in receiving yards as a sophomore), he could pick up even more traction as we head into the coming season.