White’s path to NFL led by determination

Chicago Bears wide receiver Kevin White, selected seventh overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, took the road less traveled on his way to being a first-round pick.

It was only a few years ago that Kevin White was dreaming of playing in the NFL. Now, more than three years later, White is a Top-10 pick and could be the future of an NFL offense.

The first thing people notice about White is his 6-3, 210-pound frame, which had many scouts raving and placing him in the Top 10 in most mock drafts. White is built like the receiver teams dream of drafting in April.

On Thursday night, the Chicago Bears drafted that wide receiver.

It wasn’t always easy for the Plainfield, N.J. native. In fact, White’s road to the NFL didn’t even begin at West Virginia University. Instead it began at Lackawanna College, a junior college in Scranton, Pennsylvania where White spent two seasons before becoming a Mountaineer in 2013.

But it wasn’t White’s talent that caught everyone’s attention. Rather it was his work ethic and his determination to become the best.

During his time at Lackawanna, White would personally send out his recruiting tape and e-mail whatever coaches he could just to get noticed. That determination paid off for White who ended up at West Virginia and was one of college football’s breakout stars in 2014.

Even as a three-star composite recruit, he was a player who nearly fell off the map and was likely going to go completely undiscovered after high school. But White found a home at West Virginia and he took full advantage.

In 2014 White finished with 109 receptions for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns. His senior season helped him shoot up draft boards and gain the attention of NFL teams this offseason.

Add in White’s impressive NFL Scouting Combine performance – he ran a 4.35 40-yard dash – and the once JUCO player was close to achieving his dream.

With the loss of Brandon Marshall in the offseason, it was obvious the Bears needed to address the wide receiver position. Many speculated the Bears could take Alabama’s Amari Cooper if he was available but he was selected fourth overall by the Oakland Raiders. The Bears instead landed White, who will look to fit in with the coordinator Adam Gase’s new offensive system heading into 2015.

“I like his size,” said Bears general manager Ryan Pace. “This guy can play all over so I see him as an outside receiver, but what's dangerous about this guy is he can catch a quick slant and break a tackle and go 99 yards. He has that kind of play-making ability. You see the wide reciever screens, the "now" routes and things like that. You throw him a little, short check-down and he's gone.”

White’s long-term outlook in Chicago is to compliment No. 1 receiver Alshon Jeffery, who had big seasons for the Bears in 2013 and 2014. The combination of White and Jeffery could be a staple in Chicago’s offense for years to come. But even with White’s obvious talent, Pace was wowed by his competitiveness, which goes back to his days at Lackawanna.

“I love the fire and energy that he plays with, and you see it one tape, and then you meet him in person,” said Pace. “He's one of the guys we brought in here and he's highly intelligent, he's confident, we're really jacked about this.”

White reached this point due to his determination and drive to prove everyone wrong. So when his name was called at number seven, he finally saw all of his hard work pay off. For the Bears, that could be a very good thing.

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Zack Pearson graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a journalism degree and has years of experience covering the Chicago Bears. He has written for BleacherReport, FanSided and founded ChiCitySports.

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