2015 Arizona State wide receiver overview
Ideal scholarship roster number: 10Potential returning number: 8 (D.J. Foster, Cameron Smith (injured and will likely miss 2015 season), Gary Chambers, Frederick Gammage, Ellis Jefferson, Eric Lauderdale, Tyler Whiley, Jalen Harvey) Likely returning number: 8 Signees: 2 (Terrell Chatman, Tim White)
Often when FBS schools add recruits to their class this late and we review the film, it smacks of a space filler, and that's even been the case with Arizona State over the years, certainly.
Tim White is just not that type of prospect.
Frankly, we have no idea how White was available this late. Even as a two for two non-mid-year transfer prospect (two years to play two seasons of eligibility) he has significant value and a high ceiling because of his rare athletic ability and high ceiling as a route runner.
Yes, White is somewhat undersized, at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, but part of that is he's a track athlete and leaner than he'll play football at the next level. He'll have to try to gain 5-10 pounds between when he arrives at ASU in May and when the Sun Devils play in September. There will be a lot of other challenges as well, which we will get to in a minute.
Let's instead start with White's positives, and there are some clear and quite remarkable selling points for a player available this late. He was very productive as a receiver last season at Santa Clarita (Calif.) College of the Canyons, with 55 catches for 667 receiving yards and six touchdown catches in just eight games, easily leading his team in all categories (more receptions than the next three players combined). Both his father, Timmy White, and his uncle, Ronnie White, played football at USC and in the NFL, so he comes from good football bloodlines.
Moreover, White is an elite level track and field athlete, especially as a triple jumper. He had a 54 foot triple jump in the Pan American Games after winning earlier winning the state championship. He's someone who can compete at the top of the NCAA level and perhaps even be an Olympic Trials candidate. You have to be a very explosive athlete to be able to compete at that level as a triple jumper.
This is a player who has near-elite acceleration when coming out of a stance, but what really is striking is his stopping force and ability to transition routes. White is a receiving vehicle who comes equipped with Ferrari-caliber breaks. He drives his hips downward and changes directions at an NFL-prospect caliber level.
White already transitions his 90 degree angle type in and out cuts better than any ASU player other than Cameron Smith on the roster and certainly better than Jaelen Strong does. Sure, it's easier when you're 170 pounds, but for comparison's sake, former ASU receiver Rashad Ross had elite speed and was similarly light, but had nowhere near the ability as a route runner even upon leaving ASU that White current possesses.
This is so important because White has the potential to get uncovered mid-rep better than most current ASU receivers, and his athleticism on comeback/curl/hitch routes allows him to expand cornerbacks in relaxed coverage and return to the football as an open receiver. After the catch he's extremely elusive. He's someone who has to be given a wide berth the way he runs hitch and go routes and is a high end deep threat.
The vertical threat White provides on deep posts and go routes means teams will have to be aware of his field-stretching potential and stay more honest with safety help in a way that opens the field up elsewhere.
To be sure, White has a lot of things he'll need to work on and develop further from a skill standpoint. He's meandering to some degree entering his routes, is overly cute with his feet near the line of scrimmage, and is going to need to get stronger in order to better handle press coverage and cornerbacks trying to jam and re-route him.
But one of the things that is eye-catching or someone White's site, is how many tackles he breaks at the junior college level, and also how physical he is as a blocker. He's quite sturdy and has a passion for staying in the play when he's not targeted. Some of his best routes are on plays in which he's not targeted and instead becomes an unplanned blocker. He'll chase the full field in order to make a play for a teammate, and that's something a lot of the better high school and junior college receivers aren't as good at.
The biggest challenges for White will probably be mental. A lot of receivers who arrive in the summer are not able to the type of fluency with the offense in a way that allows them to play as freely as they otherwise would. They are thinking instead of playing, and not lined up correctly enough or running the proper route at the proper depth, etc., all things that can be confidence-sapping with coaches. It's tough to predict which players will do well in this regard and which will not.
For ASU, this is a big get following the loss of Cameron Smith for the season and especially given ASU's miss on some of its top targets in the 2015 recruiting class. If White arrives ready to play, he'll push for a starting role at the 2-receiver field side position, which will enable senior D.J. Foster to play the boundary-side 9-receiver role. ASU could be extremely athletic at its offensive skill positions in such a configuration. White is the type of leverage threat to even be used in the tight slot role in two-back formations. It gives ASU more high end athletic options. That's never a bad thing.