September 10, 2010
At West Virginia, Pat White(notes) set the NCAA rushing record for quarterbacks with 4,480 yards, but he was more than just another speed option signal-caller. Many baseball scouts thought that White could have been a star when he came out of Daphne High School in Alabama -- he was a star pitcher and outfielder, and led his team to a pair of state championships in three years. The Anaheim Angels (this was before they became the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the County of Orange in the State of California in the United States of America on the Planet Earth) selected him in the fourth round of the 2004 draft and offered him a six-figure bonus to play their sport.
White, however, had something else in mind. "That was definitely a hard decision for me at that time, deciding whether to go to school and play college football or try my hand at professional baseball, but at the end the excitement of college football got the better of me," he said at the 2009 scouting combine.
[Related: Bold predictions for the 2010 NFL season]
At that combine, the Miami Dolphins fell in love with the idea of White as the possible aerial component to their ground-based Wildcat offense, and selected White in the second round. In the end, he never was able to transfer his specific skills to the pro game, failing to complete a pass in five NFL attempts and looking slow and outmatched when in the shotgun in Miami's more physical option attack. The Dolphins released White on September 4, and White passed through waivers unclaimed. As Yahoo's own Jason Cole said during Dolphins training camp, White had an outside chance at best of making the team after his rookie year unless he switched to another position - perhaps as a receiver, or a Percy Harvin(notes)-style multiple threat guy.
At that point, White had two choices: Try and make a go of it in the UFL and rebuild his stock, or give baseball another shot. He made that decision on Friday by reportedly agreeing to sign a minor-league deal with the Kansas City Royals. According to Pro Football Talk, the Royals understand that White may want to give pro football another shot and will remain open to the idea of his playing both sports. Major league teams have remained interested all along -- the Yankees drafted him in the 48th round just last year.
Is the NFL ready for a 6-foot-0, 197-pound option quarterback who struggles with the timing of counters and draws, and is best in the Pistol formation? Not unless it's the perfect situation, with the perfect coach, and the perfect team. If White can get his baseball career going again, he might be best off putting curiosity aside and focusing on what he does best. Expecting Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson in this case could be a bit much.
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