Marquez White, overlooked in college, is making NFL noise
FSU CB Marquez White is largely unheralded yet on verge of receiving NFL hype
Florida State cornerback Marquez White has remained largely enigmatic nationally for the last two seasons.
That is a blessing and a curse that comes when opponents ignore you.
White’s career at FSU will end Dec. 30 when the No. 11 Seminoles play No. 6 Michigan in the Capital One Orange Bowl, and it will likely end quietly, which is appropriate. The Alabama native doesn’t necessarily love the lack of attention, but at the same time, being overlooked is somewhat of a badge of honor. Because as a cornerback, being avoided is a good thing.
“I feel like I don’t get the recognition because I don’t get thrown the ball, so I don’t make those crazy, spectacular plays,” White said.
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White has a plan, however. In fact, he’s had one for some time and he’s followed it closely this past year. He opted not to declare for the NFL draft last season to return for a senior campaign. Much like last year, White’s name wasn’t called much, but opponents often had little success when throwing the ball his way. White’s hope is that pro teams took notice, which seems to be the case as he was invited to play in the Senior Bowl following the season.
“I just learned a lot more about myself as a player,” White said. “There were certain things I really needed to get better at before I make that next step. And being able to come back, bonding with my teammates, the young guys in the secondary, they mean a lot to me. ...Coming back and developing into a leader, my senior year I came back and it went as planned, mostly.”
Specifically, White wanted to prove to himself that he could be a vocal presence in the locker room and prove to NFL scouts that he could be more physical against the run. White said the feedback he received from NFL types last year was that they wondered if he could hold up in the pros given his slight build and if he could build on one season as a starter. It’s unlikely that White -- at 6-feet, 184 pounds -- will ever evolve into a pure thumper, but he’s shown he can play well with added weight after coming to FSU at 171 pounds.
White only gave up 89 yards after the catch this season, down from 127 yards last year according to Pro Football Focus, indicating that he was usually in position to make tackles. He was credited with just five missed tackles this season, also showing improvement in an area NFL scouts were focusing on.
CBS Sports currently has White projected as a 3rd-4th-round selection, another indicator that he elevated his pro stock despite receiving few accolades in the way of All-ACC honors.
This season, White allowed just 22 catches and a touchdown on 41 targets. He’s surrendered just two touchdown receptions and 42 catches total in the past two seasons as a starter, according to Pro Football Focus. He built on a sensational junior season in which he surrendered an opposing passer rating of 93.5, allowing a passer rating of 99.2 this year.
With just three interceptions and minimal targets the past two seasons, White has remained somewhat of an unknown commodity at the national level.
“Quez definitely solidified himself last year opposite of Jalen [Ramsey] and when plays came his way last year, he was shut down,” sophomore cornerback Tarvarus McFadden said. “Me coming in this year, being the young guy, I knew they were going to come at me more. He knew already they weren’t going to try him as much, but as a corner, they don’t get that much recognition period unless they’re getting beat or getting interceptions.”
White did neither, making it easy for award voters and national writers to overlook him. That lack of production, however, is something that ultimately caught the attention of NFL talent evaluators. Making it to the Senior Bowl in Mobile is part of White’s long term plan and he is confident he can parlay a strong showing there in front of scouts and NFL executives into positive buzz entering the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
“The Senior Bowl is going to be good on good,” White said. “Everybody there has aspirations of playing at the next level and most likely will. I’m excited about it and I know what I can do.”
Now he’s eager to show the NFL what he can do as well.
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