MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Last year, CJ Donaldson came out of nowhere and impressed as a freshman running back.
This year, Jahiem White has a chance to continue the trend of effective freshman ball carriers on the WVU offense.
“It’s great watching him out there,” Donaldson said. “I’m probably one of his biggest fans. He probably don’t know it because I’m real hard on him just because I see how good he really can be. He’s special, like, that’s a special talent.”
White – a 5-foot-7-inch, 190-pound back out of Fairfield, Ohio – burst onto the scene in the annual Gold-Blue spring scrimmage in April. He led all participants with 91 rushing yards, including a 53-yard scoring scamper in the second half.
Head coach Neal Brown noted that he thinks White is already a “fan favorite” following his performance in the spring game. His teammates are just as excited, except when they have to locate him in the backfield during practice.
“Hearing those guys talk, they can’t find him. He’s hard to find,” offensive coordinator Chad Scott said. “Talking about pad level, he’s got it naturally. He’s fast. He sees it really well. He’s got phenomenal vision. I’m excited to see what he can do with the ball in his hands.”
Whereas junior Justin Johnson Jr. and freshman DJ Oliver will primarily be used in the downhill rushing attack, White is expected to join Donaldson and redshirt sophomore back Jaylen Anderson on the list of backs who can be used in the passing attack.
Expect White to line up in multiple different positions when he sees the field.
“We’ve got to get the ball in his hands,” Scott said. “That’s the beauty of two-spotting. It shows us what he can handle. We won’t ask a lot of him. When you have a guy that talented, the worst thing you can do is make him play a lot slower than he is.”
On the WVU preseason depth chart, White is listed as one of two backs – Johnson Jr. being the other – competing for the third-string running back spot. Regardless of their places on the depth chart, Scott is encouraging all running backs to play as worry-free as possible, almost like they are back in high school.
So far, White is applying that novel concept in fall camp.
“He’s definitely electric,” Donaldson said. “He has great speed, great instinct. He’s playing real loose…He’s just out there having fun.”