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NFL training camp is a bit more than a month away, but minicamps and OTAs across the league have given coaches and fans a taste of what the summer could bring. In Miami, one thing the summer will certainly include, other than sweltering heat, is training camp battles.
As rookie head coach, Mike McDaniel told South Florida reporters that rookies, especially undrafted free agents have a tall task ahead of them.
“I say it to the rookies all the time – the undertaking they have where they’re transitioning from a different game and these are grown men that have been earning a paycheck and you’re trying to get reps from them and perform at a high level, so certain positions I think are more akin to show fast and furious,” he said.
McDaniel, who has brought a welcoming personability to his press conferences, spoke highly of UDFA running back ZaQuandre White. “Dr. White,” as McDaniel now calls him, will battle several for what could be the final spot in a running back room. The former South Carolina Gamecock will have to outperform players like Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed and Gerrid Doaks let alone brand new Dolphins Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel.
White, a Florida product out of Cape Coral, could be a perfect student to learn under McDaniel, who specializes in his run schemes. Mostert actually followed McDaniel from San Fransisco, a testament to the coach’s ability to work with running backs.
White is an exciting player who can be a chunk-play type of a runner for Miami. He has the ability to make defenders miss and make huge plays as evidenced in his 2021 season in South Carolina when he averaged 6.6 yards per carry and broke off a 63-yard run.
When discussing reps, and players making the most of them in minicamp, McDaniel name-dropped and even nicknamed his rookie runner.
“Typically running backs, you get a little more opportunity because it’s a little more natural to what you’ve done in the past – hey, don’t get tackled – and I’ve been very impressed with, I call him ‘Dr. White,’” he said.
It’s never bad for a head coach to have a positive connotation and nomenclature for an undrafted player, especially one who’s technically the team’s seventh running back on the pre-training-camp depth chart.
Like a good medical student, getting in on any chance to watch the pros and learn is something that “Dr. White” seems, well, run with. Special teams could be his key to admission to a potential spot on the 53-man roster.
It’s not uncommon for undrafted skill-position players to earn a spot on special teams and, in White’s case, could compete for a kick-off return role. Regardless of offense or special teams, you can make a solid wager that White will come to training camp prepared. While his work may be cut out for him, White’s a growing name of interest to see who can be the latest Dolphin gem as an undrafted free agent.