Former ASU RB Rachaad White: NCAA investigation caused distraction in 2021
The culmination of past successes on the recruiting front and continuity, with a horde of returning starters, was supposed to jolt the Arizona State Sun Devil football program toward success in 2021.
An 8-5 record and a Las Vegas Bowl loss to Wisconsin did not meet the lofty expectations.
Head coach Herm Edwards remained adamant during the year that the NCAA investigation into the program’s recruiting practices, which led to three since-departed assistants to sit out the season, did not appear to impact his players. But coming off of a strong NFL Draft Combine experience, former Arizona State running back Rachaad White admitted on Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta that he could sense a weight that the investigation put on his team.
“We were trying to do the best we can,” he said on Wednesday. “It’s always difficult, especially as a team, as being young men, you know kind of what’s going on. It’s a bit of an unknown: any day this can happen, any day that can happen.
“I mean, we tried to do our best to block it out. At the end of the day just tough because distraction is what … kills things kinda, what messes up things. I feel like that was one of the biggest things that I felt like messed up our last season, is kind of being distracted by it and not being able to zone it out.”
Individually, though, White made the best of the past year.
In his second season at ASU, the senior rushed for 1,006 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. He added 456 yards on 43 receptions with another score in the passing game.
White measured in at 6-foot and 214 pounds at the NFL Draft Combine last week with a 38-inch vertical and a 4.48-second time in the 40-yard dash. That only bolstered his growing stock after he performed this season and then got in front of scouts first at the Senior Bowl.
White, who spoke with the Arizona Cardinals at the combine, said his main message sent to NFL teams in pre-draft meetings was about his attention to detail.
“I just kind of had to take it in, soak it in all for myself,” said White, who got his collegiate start at Mt. San Antonio College from 2018-19. “I just have a positive outlook on everything in life because my journey, where I come from, it’s been a long road at the end of the day.
“(The combine) was fun for me. I was grateful, blessed to be up there, be in that position. My performance, I feel I did alright. I wasn’t satisfied with it, but I felt like I did solid, put a good foot forward and now it’s on to my pro day on Monday.”