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WSU's Charleston White: The unlikely safety

WASHINGTON STATE’s Charleston White is built like a cornerback, long and lean. The fourth-year junior (6-0, 195) however, has been drawing notice and turning heads since his move to safety this spring. What’s behind the rapid ascension?

Part of it is certainly this: Charleston White is a quick study. 

After all, it’s not as if he’s been studying tape since January and working out in offseason voluntary drills as if he’d be lining up at safety this spring.  Indeed, defensive coordinator and secondary coach Alex Grinch told White he was moving to safety exactly one day before the Cougs' first spring practice.

“I was kinda excited to see how it would pan out,” said White. “After I got all the play calls.. and film work done, I was ready to roll.”

The primary goal behind Grinch’s defense is centered on takeaways and quick stops - getting the ball back to Mike Leach’s Air Raid as quickly as possible. And White, who played some safety in high school, has shown a knack for interceptions this spring. 

“In terms of thinking-wise, it was a big adjustment but in terms of reading routes and things like that, it’s come pretty easy to me,” said White.  “Some calls, reading the quarterback’s eyes, have come pretty easy for me. And being able to come down on top of (plays) is a lot easier than at corner. I feel it’s been a pretty good change.

“Coach Grinch always talks about being ball hawks and to expect that the ball is coming. I just made it a deal this spring that whatever I do, whatever position I play, I want to make it the best these last two seasons that I have.”

Speaking of Cougar QBs, which ones has he had the most difficulty reading this spring?

Luke Falk,” said White. “One thing about Luke, he’s a real (student) of the game. He understands the offense so he knows where to look. He does a really good job of that.”

White declined to single out one Cougar wideout when asked who has given him the biggest challenge this spring. The same held true of the Cougar running backs.

“I can’t narrow it down to just one, all of them bring a different aspect to what they do in terms of route running, speed, strength and catching the ball,” said White. “All of the wide receivers have been doing a good job this spring of trying to ward me off… Gabe Marks is having one hell of a spring, I’ll tell you that much.

Gerard Wicks is obviously our power back so when you see him coming hot at the hole like that you’ve got to (also) come with it,” said White. “And then you have Jamal Morrow, one of our more elusive backs -- if you don’t keep your eyes on his hips he can make you look silly. And James Williams is doing a good job this spring too, he’s another one of those quick, elusive backs who can make you miss.”

Asked about true freshman DB Jalen Thompson, White had plenty of praise.

“Jalen is an amazing athlete,” said White. “I’m really impressed by how Jalen is doing, coming in as a true freshman early. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not running with the 1s.”

White, who is one of the fastest players on the team, has been lining up primarily at the strong safety spot this spring. 

“There’s not too much difference between (strong and free). He controls his side and I control mine,” said White.

Through six practices this spring, White has been just that – in control.

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