Monday, April 19, 2021

After going undrafted, White signs with Indianapolis Colts

April 25, 2010

Former wide receiver Blair White catches the Spartans’ first and only touchdown during the fourth quarter of an Oct. 24, 2009, game against Iowa.

Photo by Georgia Rhodes | The State News

During the seventh round of this weekend’s NFL Draft, ESPN analyst Chris Mortensen said it is better for players to go undrafted and choose their team than to get drafted in the final round.

It might not have seemed likely going into the weekend, but former MSU wide receiver Blair White landed in the first group.

White went undrafted but signed a free agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday after hearing interest from a handful of teams in the final round.

“You want to get drafted and see your name pop up, but in the end, you want to be able to choose what is best for yourself, and I think that’s what happened,” White said.

The Saginaw, Mich., native was told by teams that concerns about his back were the main reason he wasn’t drafted.

In 2007, White underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back. But White’s most successful seasons at MSU came after he had the surgery.

“I think some teams passed on me because of my back surgeries, but I don’t blame them. That’s how it works,” he said. “But I think it’s going to work out.”

The Colts have a deep receiving corps with Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez and Pierre Garcon, but have had unknown receivers step up for them — such as Garcon — who was a sixth-round pick in 2008.

“Obviously they have a quality organization and a winning tradition,” White said of the Colts. “Not to mention their quarterback (Peyton Manning) is the best in the business.”

White said he believed his contract was for three years but he had yet to go over the terms with his agent. He’ll head to Indianapolis this week for minicamp.

This past season, White led the Spartans in receptions (70), receiving yards (990) and touchdown catches (nine), earning All-Big Ten honors from the league’s coaches along with being named an Academic All-American.

He was chosen to participate in the East/West Shrine game Jan. 23 and had a game-high seven catches for 93 yards.

At the NFL Combine from Feb. 25-28, White was the fastest wide receiver in the 20-yard shuttle, second in the 60-yard shuttle, third in the three-cone drill and sixth in bench press reps.

White’s performance in the Combine was enough to earn him praise from draft analysts, but White thought some of his performances were average.

So at MSU’s Pro Day on March 17, White ran a 40-yard dash in about 4.4 seconds, an improvement from the Combine.

At MSU’s Pro Day, one scout said White had all the tools to be successful.

“He’s very savvy, he’s a hard worker and he had a big year,” said one scout who requested to remain anonymous. “He’s the kind of guy every team would like to have.”

But not the guy who every team would like to draft.

“I just can’t understand how the Combine is that important when he did so well,” said Gerry LeFevre, White’s grandmother. “They say that means everything, but to me it doesn’t mean a thing because they didn’t draft him.”

After the Combine, White said he was questioned by some teams about his commitment to football.

White was accepted to dental school at the University of Michigan and the University of Detroit-Mercy, but said dental school would be second priority to football. Still, NFL teams compared him to former Florida State safety Myron Rolle, who spent a year at Oxford before entering the NFL Draft.

“I’ve had questions about, ‘Oh, he has dentistry to fall back on so he’s not committed,’” White said shortly after the Combine. “I don’t view it like that. I think it’s more of having a plan if something happens if I get hurt or something crazy happens, but whatever I’m focused on, I’m not going to stray away from that. I’ve always been that person who worked hard and focused in on the task at hand.”

Rolle was drafted with the last pick in the sixth round, and although there’s no evidence that a backup plan hurt White’s draft stock, White did fall out of the draft after being told he could be picked as high as the third round.

But White isn’t unfamiliar with that feeling. He walked on to MSU’s football team and had to prove himself in the underdog role. Now, as an undrafted free agent, White will have to do the same thing.

“It’s come back to being a walk-on type of thing,” he said.

Other Spartans find NFL homes

White will be joined in Indianapolis by former MSU kicker Brett Swenson, who also signed a free agent contract with the Colts. White said he talked with Swenson after both signed with the Colts, and both are excited to be teammates again. Former MSU cornerback Ross Weaver also signed a free agent contract with the Miami Dolphins.

The only Spartan who was selected in the NFL Draft was former MSU cornerback Jeremy Ware, who was taken in the seventh round by the Oakland Raiders.

Ware impressed many scouts at MSU’s Pro Day, where he ran about a 4.3-second 40-yard dash and had a 37.5-inch vertical jump.

“This has been an exciting day, and I really appreciate (football head coach Mark Dantonio) thinking about me earlier this week and giving me a call,” Ware said in a release. “He said that he had been thinking about me, and that he was confident that somebody would give me a shot.”

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