Georgia Tech DL Keion White is great on the field, and better at the microphone
INDIANPOLIS — Not that Georgia Tech defensive lineman Keion White had too much to prove at the 2023 scouting combine — the 6-foot-5, 286-pound Old Dominion transfer and former tight end put up seven sacks, four quarterback hits, and 30 quarterback hurries in his 2022 season, and was blowing offensive linemen up at Senior Bowl week — but when he took the podium on Wednesday, it was quite an event.
On the field, White reminds me of Michael Bennett, the former Seahawks star pass-rusher who could nuke blockers from anywhere in the formation. Bennett has always marched to his own drumbeat and has a unique mind. It was nice to experience that White is definitely an original when he’s talking, as well.
White had been in college since his freshman year at Old Dominion in 2018, which is a long time, as he noted.
“Six years in college is long as [expletive],” he said. “I don’t know if I can say ‘[expletive]’ up here but it’s long.”
Well, too late for that. The non-recruited White transferred to Georgia Tech following the COVID year of 2020, and he firmly established himself as a premier pass-rusher and run defender in the one season he was able to show out at that level. He had just 36 snaps in his first season with the Yellowjackets, but when he was given opportunities to shine, he showed all kinds of first-round talent.
The journey made his combine experience a bit out of this world.
“I was not recruited at all coming out of high school,” he said. “When I got to go to college, I just planned on working in the workforce and being like one of y’all, just a normal person. Coming here and being part of this is just a surreal experience.”
The tape is far from ordinary, though.
Georgia Tech DL Keion White, who was awesome at the podium today, is also a lot of fun to watch on the field. Bull-rush + spin = boom. pic.twitter.com/np6JRdTxDv
— Doug Farrar ✍ (@NFL_DougFarrar) March 1, 2023
Keion White goes right through Ryan Hayes with a power rush 🐝 pic.twitter.com/qA6AIN4E8B
— RanDynasty (@ran_dynasty) February 1, 2023
Power moves are White’s forte. and he has a lot of confidence in what he does best.
“At the beginning of the season, I was trying to be a speed rusher because everybody was like, ‘You need to add more moves; you need to showcase your talent, that you can do other things.’ And that wasn’t me. So I wasn’t being productive. Once I got back to being a powerful rusher and being dominant again, that’s when my sack production picked up.”
And what did he learn from that experience?
“Don’t listen to what everybody said you need to do or the scouts wanna see. Scouts see what they’re gonna see. I’m going to be me and let them evaluate it from there.”
As far as where he’ll best fit in the NFL, White, who played 80% of his spans outside the guards, 17% inside, and 2% at nose tackle, is perfectly fine with wherever his next team wants to put him.
Of course, he does have some opinions about that.
“That’s cool with me,” he said of a main 5-tech role. “I’ve shown throughout my career that I can go wherever I need to go. Personally, I like playing the 5. Anywhere from 3 to 9 I think it’s reasonable for me to play. And I like being able to play anywhere from 3 to 9, and that versatility. That only makes you more valuable as a player.”
White is also quite sure that he won’t need to add weight to transcend any “tweener” concerns.
“No. I’m 285 pounds, reasonably strong. I’ve been playing end, and I’m reasonably quick enough to play the outside as well. I like the weight I’m at. If teams need me to, obviously they’re paying money, I’ll go anywhere if they give me money for it. That’s how I feel about it.”
Of course, some people are going to misinterpret White’s opinionated nature as making him hard to coach… or that old combine chestnut, “Do you love football?” Which really means, are you going to keep your mouth shut and do what you’re told?
If that’s what you want, White isn’t your guy.
“That’s a tough question because I could tell you any bull[bleep] answer and you’ll be like, ‘Yeah, okay.’ It’s more something you have to show. That’s not just something you can evaluate from the tape because anybody can go out there and play, it’s just about how hard you play and the dedication you put into it. It’s just like if I asked you, ‘Do you love media?’ How am I supposed to know if you love media? No, it’s what you do. It’s just a personal thing. I enjoy doing this every day.”
Perhaps White’s independent nature is tied to the fact that he has serious business plans in his future. Budding real estate magnate, in fact.
“Probably property acquisitions and real estate, things like that,” he said, when asked what he would do were he force to work an “ordinary” job. “I worked for a couple companies when I was in Atlanta doing certified finishes and at McKenney’s, I was doing [work in] the accounting department and the estimating side. From there, I realized office life sucks, so [corporate] life is trash, and football is definitely the career path I need to be on.”
Once White gets his NFL contract (he missed out on the NIL boom, to his chagrin), he plans to get that ball rolling.
“Numbers have always come easily to me, and I’ve always been knowledgeable in seeing the information. I’ve realized a lot of the millionaires outside of sports that you see have ventures in real estate and that’s how they develop their portfolios and build up their network. I was like — if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.”
So, Keion White is a one-off, both on and off the field. He’s already proven it on tape and at the mic, and he’s eager to reinforce that when the defensive linemen run through their drills at Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday.