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West Virginia's Kevin White on Pace to Join Elite Group of Receivers

Kevin White

Kevin White

West Virginia wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway was blocked from seeing the play of the day from his new star player on Saturday against Baylor.

Even from his spot in the press box, he missed the replay on the big screen at Milan Puskar Stadium.

After the game, he asked the source, Kevin White, about the 12-yard go-ahead touchdown catch against Baylor in the fourth quarter.

“I asked him if he caught that one-handed,” Galloway said. “He said ‘You know I did.’”

He also made the catch with a Baylor defensive back draped all over him.

For his part, White says he didn’t watch the replay of his potential season-defining catch until he saw it during film study.

Elsewhere, the catch was replayed all through the college football weekend as West Virginia upset Baylor 41-27.

The one-handed grab — and the 132-yard, two-touchdown day against Baylor — brought attention to what West Virginia and Big 12 fans already knew. White has emerged from obscurity to become of the nation’s top receivers.

White has topped six receptions and 100 yards in all seven games this season against a schedule that includes Alabama and Oklahoma. As the nation’s first receiver to 1,000 yards, White is on pace to rival two of the most productive receivers in college football history.

Both played for Dana Holgorsen in some capacity. Both won the Biletnikoff Award twice.

Through seven games, White emerged from being the No. 2 receiver on a 4-8 team to putting his name alongside Michael Crabtree and Justin Blackmon.

At Texas Tech, Crabtree set a Big 12 record with 1,962 yards, and he won the Biletnikoff in 2007 with Holgorsen as receivers coach. Blackmon at Oklahoma State followed with the second-highest total in Big 12 history with 1,782 yards to go with a Biletnikoff Award of his own in 2010. (Both Blackmon and Crabtree won back-to-back Biletnikoff Awards, the second coming the year after Holgorsen left).

White’s pace puts him in between the pair. At his current pace, he’ll finish a 13-game season with 1,894 yards.

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If the Baylor game was any indication, opponents will do anything they can to make sure White does not reach those milestones. The Bears were called for pass interference five times while trying to defend White.

“He's just such a big, physical presence and the nature of Baylor's defense was going to put those guys in some one-on-one situations,” Holgorsen said. “Baylor is a physical team. They use their hands. They play hard. They play with good effort. They play reckless at times, too.

“We were going to take shots and we were going to take a bunch early and take them throughout the course of the game. If we hit on some of them or if we didn't hit on some of them, based on some P.I. calls. So he's a dominating player, that's for sure.”

West Virginia saw shades of this kind of season from White but not until the spring. This breakout for White required patience.

White committed to Pittsburgh out of Emmaus (Pa.), but grades forced him to take the junior college route at Lackawanna College. Once there, he had to redshirt a year.

"I don't know (why)," White said. "I guess I wasn't ready."

West Virginia signed White out of JUCO, and his first season in Morgantown was immediately stalled due to a foot injury to start 2013.

Beyond White, the Mountaineers’ offense struggled throughout last season, as quarterback Clint Trickett was in and out of the lineup and battled injuries.

White looked the part of a lost new arrival to the roster with a red zone fumble against Oklahoma in Week 2 of last season.

“It was difficult,” White said. “Coming from JUCO and high school, you didn’t have to put this kind of time into football. You didn’t have to put hours in the film room. You didn’t have to work out this much. Practice is different here. It’s mentally frustrating with different defenses they throw at you, and corners are smarter at this level.

“It was different. I didn’t know how to handle everything all at once.”

He had seven catches for 130 yards in October against Baylor, but Galloway said the game didn’t start to truly click for White in 2013 until the final games of the season.

“The Iowa State game (two catches, 27 yards, one touchdown) was a good one for him, that last stretch where he had made some plays,” Galloway said. “In spring practice, he started showing he could be dominant.”

The meager gains from the end of last season are now coming to full fruition.

West Virginia’s offense has stabilized with a healthy quarterback and a dominant receiver in White.

“He’s done a great job of high pointing the football, attacking the football,” Galloway said. “That’s been good to see. Kevin has put in a lot of hard work. The light’s come on for him and I’m glad it has. The best football is still ahead of him.”