Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room examines the refined cutback skills of 2022 NFL Draft running back prospect ZaQuandre White of South Carolina.
South Carolina is wildcard central when it comes to NFL prospects. For at least a decade, the Gamecocks have attracted a lot of top athletes. And during that same period, a lot of these players haven’t reached the ceiling of their potential in the league.
This includes successful prospects who didn’t develop far beyond what they already displayed at Columbia. Deebo Samuel is a tremendous football player who thrives in a system that maximizes his skills. Even so, his route running and release techniques against press coverage are lacking compared to other primary options in the league.
It’s the combination of successful players like Samuel, Melvin Ingram, Alshon Jeffery, Jared Cook, and Mike Davis, and many other talents who didn’t take the next step but flashed top-end athletic ability that has made South Carolina a fascinating program to scout.
Scouts and high school coaches in the region have shared their rationale behind this history with the program, but I won’t get it into it here. I only broached this topic because ZaQandre White fits the mold of a lot of the Gamecocks’ recent prospects: physically gifted athletes with a combination of NFL-level refinement and untapped potential.
White transferred from a struggling FSU program after 2018. He sat out 2019 and only had 18 touches in 2020. This year, White earned nearly 800 yards of offense on 107 touches while sharing time with NFL prospect, Kevin Harris.
White is a big-play back. If his listed height and weight check out, he’s big enough to earn a significant workload in the NFL.
Despite the limited playing time as a collegian, White has the promise of a lead back. The most notable skill that illustrates this potential is his cutback ability.
Blessed with flexible hips, sudden acceleration, and game-breaking speed, White’s physical skills are only part of the equation. As you’ll see in the video below, White understands how to read the leverage of blocks, press towards the area where the defense has the advantage, and make the cutback to the open area.
However, there’s more to the cutback than simply running to the nearest opening. It’s what White does physically and conceptually during this play that reveals why his cutback skills are Sunday-ready.
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