Last month at SEC Media Days South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier talked about fifth year senior quarterback Dylan Thompson trying to pack his entire career into a single season. Missouri wideout Darius White knows the feeling.
White was a four-star receiver and the No. 41 player in the Class of 2010. His Rivals.com recruiting profile listed former Georgia Star and current Cincinnati Bengal A.J. Green as the player White most resembled. White caught six passes for 71 yards and a touchdown in two years in Austin. He then transferred, landing in Columbia and sitting out the 2012 season. Last year, as a junior, White played a bit part, catching seven passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. All were career highs, but none were numbers befitting a prospect of his stature coming out of Fort Worth's Dunbar High School.
Now, White has one final season to make his mark as a college football player.
"He said it right, man," White said. "You're really just trying to pack a whole career into one season man. But at the same time, you don't want to overwhelm yourself. You still go out, have fun, making plays, have fun with the guys. That's all it is. You just go out and be yourself. Don't try to overthink. Some days I get on myself about that because some days I might come out here and drop one or two balls, I really get on myself, get down on myself. I have to really just tell myself, 'Stay calm, everything's gonna work out.'"
White started an offseason hashtag on Twitter, using "#MoneySeason" any time he tweets about the Tigers and his final year. He has made brash statements about Missouri winning the SEC and playing for a national championship. He doesn't regret any of it.
"When you come out here on this field, this is where your'e trying to get your money at," White explained. "You're putting money in the bank every day. Over the summer, just like you're going into the bank, you're putting a little bit of money in every day. If you're not getting better that day, you just taking money out of the bank. You're trying to put money in the bank every day."
Perhaps his production hasn't yet matched his confidence. But he remains certain that it will.
Update on the Family: Last year, White's younger half-brother Stepfawn Hughes committed to Missouri. However, on National Signing Day, he did not ink a Letter of Intent with Mizzou...or anyone else. Hughes ended up at Iowa Western Community College.
"I talk to him every day about camp," White said. "I'm really just letting it go in his hands. I'm not trying to pressure him like you need to come here. It's your decision."
White said that Hughes still talks to his recruiting coach at Missouri, Dave Steckel, on a regular basis.
Injury Update: Tailback Morgan Steward left practice with what Gary Pinkel described as a tweaked hip. Safety Cortland Browning was in a red pullover with a shoulder sprain. Freshman corner Raymond Wingo missed today's workout due to a death in the family.
Wide-Eyed Wideouts: Much has been made of Missouri losing four of its top six receivers from last season, including all three starters. While White, Bud Sasser and Jimmie Hunt are expected to be the starting trio, Missouri will lean heavily on an influx of youth at the position.
Freshman Keyon Dilosa will miss the season after tearing his Achilles tendon during the summer. But Nate Brown, DeSean Blair, Thomas Richard and Lawrence Lee are all hitting camp hoping to break into the rotation.
"I walk around and take notes on every freshman that's out there, can any of these guys help us this year?" Pinkel said. "Some positions, we're looking for more help than others based on injury, graduation or what have you...I think they're competing hard. I mention one name, I've got to mention all of them. We'll see how it goes."
"Yes, sir, we are (going to need them to play). Just like Marcus Lucas, L'Damian, they needed us to back them up and come in, there's nothing better than having a guy right after you, you're confident and know that he's going to know exactly what he's doing," White said. "Everybody's still trying to gather the offense. It's just one summer. We packed a lot of stuff in. Trust me, I know coming in from when I was transferring, coming in it was a lot."
Special Teams Update: The Tiger specialists are fairly set this season. Christian Brinser will punt, Andrew Baggett will handle the kicks and Jake Hurrell returns to long snap. Marcus Murphy ought to once again handle all the returns. But the Tigers are looking for that next return man to give Murphy a breather and to take over when he is gone in 2015.
Freshmen Ish Witter, Wingo and Thomas Wilson have all spent some time working on punt returns during practice in the last few days.
Familiar Face: Former Tiger wideout Will Franklin has been a fixture at practice in the first few days of camp. Franklin, a Vashon High product who finished his playing days in 2007, is not working with the team, but is in Columbia taking classes to finish up his college degree and has come by practice each day this week.
The Next Level: NFL scouts are a regular fixture at fall camp. On Friday, personnel from the Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and St. Louis Rams were in attendance. Both spent the bulk of the early part of practice checking out Missouri's defensive line, where senior Markus Golden is expected to be an early round pick in April.
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