Kevin White prepared to battle challenges as a top pick

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By MATT BARBATO
College Contributor Network

West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White possesses as much upside as any 2015 NFL Draft prospect. The receiver, even compared to a created player in EA Sports' Madden video games by fellow Mountaineer Ishmael Banks, hasn't always generated such lofty expectations.

The wide out's road to potential NFL stardom has been a long one. It's a road that started at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pennsylvania and veered off to Morgantown, West Virginia, where he made a name for himself last season after catching 109 passes for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Mountaineers.

The outside hysteria is present, but White said he doesn't listen to it and is merely focusing on his own expectations.

"I try not to pay attention to what a lot of people are expecting of me because I expect a lot of myself," White said at the Gatorade Evolution of Football event Wednesday night at the Art Institute of Chicago. "I think if you get caught up in that whole 'This person wants you to be this good and this great,' I want to be very, very, very good. I just pay attention to myself."

White opened scouts' eyes with his stellar performance at the NFL Combine. He showed off his speed and strength abilities by running a 4.35 40-yard dash time while doing 23 reps in the bench press.

Those impressive performances vaulted White into the top-10 discussion. Some believe he could land as high as the fourth pick, but most believe he will safely land somewhere in the top-10 of the draft.

However, White has plenty to improve upon his game. White said he has worked to improve his mechanics as a route runner and pass catcher.

"Just getting in and out of my breaks as quick as I can and being a better route runner," White said. "(I'm) just trying to be a technician. After I beat the corner, stack him, change my moves up on the line, be physical and be the student of the game."

White also benefited from playing in an up-tempo spread offense at West Virginia. Head coach Dana Holgerson's offense runs upwards of more than 100 plays in some games. His quarterback, Clint Trickett, completed 281 of his 419 pass attempts. White caught 109 of those completions.

West Virginia's ninth-best passing offense helped pad White's stats and also prepared him to produce in an NFL system.

"I think it's prepared me very well just because we were running 110 plays against Maryland, running 90 plays and there was no break and it was like that at practice," White said.

"For the NFL they're running 60-to-70 plays. I think I'll be all right, but I'm going to have to condition a whole lot because the game is going to be a lot faster and competition is going to be a lot better."

White also talked about how much he values playing with an experienced quarterback. He admitted that a receiver can't thrive without a talented guy throwing him the ball.

"I think for a receiver you always want to have an established quarterback just because without a quarterback, you're not a receiver," White said. "I know with a good quarterback what a receiver can produce. I had Clint Trickett this year and he did an excellent job."

"It would be very hard for a receiver to have a lot of success without a good quarterback."

White appreciates the hype he is receiving now, but knows he will constantly have to work hard for any success he achieves at the next level. If his journey from Lackawanna has taught him anything, it's that there will always be people doubting his ability.

"Coming from junior college to West Virginia, I'm just so honored and blessed to be here because a lot of people counted me out," White said. "I didn't look as good as some of these other guys and I know I'm going to have to work for a lot."

Matt Barbato is a senior at Marquette University. His favorite sport is football and is an avid New York Jets fan, for better or worse. You can follow him on Twitter @RealMattBarbato
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