Keion White, Riley Moss and Shrimp: Combine Notebook

NFL Draft – INDIANAPOLIS — Georgia Tech wide receiver Keion White knows he’s bigger than the typical prospect at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Six years in college is a long time,” Jones said Wednesday. “I don’t know if I can say ‘shit’ up here, but it’s a lot.

“I did two years at ODU when I started, then a year with defensive end, COVID, a basketball injury and then I had a good year last year to get me here. It’s been a road.”

White redshirted at Old Dominion waaaaaay back in 2017. After catching 11 passes as a tight end, the coaches moved the lightly recruited White (he was a 205-pound center in high school) to defensive end, where he recorded 19 tackles for a loss and earned second-string status All-Conference USA team. White withdrew due to COVID in 2020 and then transferred to Georgia Tech.

Then came this injury.

“It was a freak accident,” White said. “I jumped in the air. I came down and there was a tee on the baseline. I slid the tee into the wall. My ankle went sideways.

“I saw it was on the side, and I thought, ‘It can’t be like that.’ So I put it back in place. And I said, “good, I’m good.”

White was neither nice nor good. “It was more than dislocated for sure.” He missed the first half of the 2021 season. He finally returned to form in 2022, with 7.5 sacks and 14 tackles for a loss.

The 280-pound White looks like a top-15 pick: a bullpen who can drive blockers back when he gets under their pads, works hard to create sacks on his second move and read- and-reacts quickly on zone reads, screens and misdirection plays. But his portfolio is full of ordinary Saturdays, both in 2021 (when he was still recovering from the original autosurgery) and 2022 (White, by his own admission, tried too hard to be a good rusher at the start of the year ).

White is also 24 years old, so there was an element between boys in the 2022 production.

“I was on a team of people born in 2004,” he said, when asked what it was like playing with freshmen six years his junior. “I was like, ‘man, I was playing football up until then.’

One of the big conundrums of the 2023 coaching class is figuring out what to do with the “overage” prospects whose college careers were sidelined/extended due to the pandemic. Older prospects have lower upside and, often, misleading production. It’s tempting to issue a blanket exemption for players who left or were delisted from their college programs in 2020, but that’s not exactly comprehensive.

General managers often think of a prospect’s age as a two-way street: an older prospect may be closer to his prime, but also less likely to succumb to the many dangers of immaturity. Lower ceilings often come with higher floors, especially for unique individuals like White, who earned a bachelor’s degree in real estate from Old Dominion before the gate and has an internship-filled Linkedin profile so impressive I might put him in charge of my retirement plan.

As a super-duper senior, White doesn’t fit in the top 20. But he certainly fits in the FO 100 (coming soon) as a solid all-purpose defensive end who can contribute right away. Moving White too far down the draft board means losing a player who could quickly emerge as a locker room leader.

And NFL teams won’t have to worry about any more mishaps on the hard court. “My basketball days are over until I’m done with football,” White said. “Even then, it’s all going to be triple threat fake pumps and old basketball.”

Shrimp are friends, not food

Some representatives of the St. Elmo’s Steakhouse of Indianapolis appeared in the media workroom at 9:10 am. offering samples of the restaurant’s legendary fist-sized shrimp smothered in fiery horseradish.

Now, I absolutely love St. Horseradish. Elmo. It’s so hot that it doesn’t so much clear the sinuses as it re-channels them, punching a dolphin-like hole out of the base of the spine moments after ingestion. I would gargle things. But I loathe shrimp, I’d rather eat horseradish than an oyster cracker or my own outstretched palm.

Moreover, among members of the media who have seafood allergies, those who keep kosher, and those who are almost apocalyptically hung every morning at the cauldron, showing up in the workroom during the morning hours brandishing large trays of spicy shrimp was practically a microaggression. . . The restaurant folks, with photographers in tow, were lucky no Jackson Pollock reporter had half-digested Holiday Inn scrambled eggs and Scottish-scented bile on the convention center ballroom floor.

The few brave souls who tried the mouth-numbing appetizer reacted as if they were taking out a free base for the first time: an initial gasp, then a dizzy rush, then the dilation of pupils usually associated with feral cats in dark alleys.

The shrimp also showed up in the interview room about an hour later, leading to this VERY misleading viral photo:

No, I don’t mind those shrimp. Neither, for heaven’s sake, do the misses. I was just wondering if it would be socially inappropriate to lick the horseradish off the top of one of these crustaceans as any respectable journalist would.

If the people of St. Elmo appear at Bryce Young’s podium on Friday brandishing shrimp, now that it will be considered microaggression.

Sack King Caleb Murphy, Fancy-Like

When a big NCAA puck drops inland, it barely makes a sound. So when Ferris State linebacker Caleb Murphy broke Terrell Suggs’ all-time, all-level, single-season NCAA sack record, it not only drew little attention nationally, it barely made an impact on Murphy’s day .

“It was a playoff game,” said Murphy, who finished last season with 25.5 sacks. “It was really close when I broke it. So we just kept playing the game. And then I celebrated with my family. I got the ball, but that was about it. They just posted it on social media a couple of days later.”

Well, at least Murphy and his family celebrated somewhere very special, right? “We went to Applebee’s,” he said.

Not to yuk anyone’s yum or chain-restaurant-shame anyone, but Applebee’s? “There’s not much in Big Rapids,” Murphy explained with a smile.

Murphy finished last season with an overflowing trophy case, winning the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation’s top defensive end (at any level), the Gene Upshaw Award as the nation’s top D-II lineman and the Cliff Harris Award as the best small in the country. -defensive player of the school, among other honors. He was a five-sport letterman in high school, pitching for the baseball and track teams in the spring and juggling basketball and wrestling in the winter.

I haven’t studied any Ferris State tapes and wouldn’t know how to project Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference footage to the NFL if I did. So I have no idea what kind of prospect Murphy is. But during combine interviews, he came across with the same poise and confidence. And anyone with his accomplishments and athletic background deserves at least a Day 3 draft pick and a long camp appearance.

Murphy told reporters that he wore No. 12 all the way through college in honor of his favorite NFL player, Tom Brady. So how did Murphy feel when he heard his idol was retired?

“It was sad, because obviously I’m coming in now,” Murphy said. “Sacking Tom Brady was a dream that will probably never come true now.”

Veteran movement introducing this “probably”, Caleb.

Riley Moss is a fan favorite

Iowa cornerback Riley Moss is a white guy, but he’s also a cornerback. You might think the press corps would avoid asking sensitive questions about race. Well, maybe it was the spicy shrimp, but my colleagues did, in fact, ask some (very marginally) tough questions.

“Obviously, I look different, but I don’t play different,” Moss said. “Teams are going to see me out there, and throw the ball my way. Absolutely. Let’s go! Throw me the ball! So I think it’s in my favor.”

Friend of the Walkthrough Turron Davenport of ESPN got Moss to talk a little more about the stereotype of the not-quite-athletic white cornerback. “I was a two-star recruit coming out of high school. I originally committed to North Dakota State. I had no Power 5 offers. It was always me against the world. I wake up every morning and remind myself that people don’t ‘I want you.’ here. I’m going to go out there and prove them wrong.”

Moss ranks one notch below a large cluster of elite cornerback prospects in this draft class. He’s on the fringes of FO 100. But maybe if he moves to a safe place… I mean, he just doesn’t fit the mold… why do all my coworkers see me as dirty? I DIDN’T LICK THE SHRIMPS I SWEAR.

Tomorrow, or maybe Saturday: Illinois Sydney Brown safety figure skating, cutting Footloose with Louisiana-Lafayette linebacker Andre Jones Jr., tap dancing around the Jalen Carter situation and more.

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