His Alabama teammates cheered for him as he sprinted down the field at the team's indoor practice facility during the team's Pro Day back in March. Wide receiver DeAndrew White had just clocked in a 4.34 time in the 40-yard dash. He stood out during the Pro Day, improving upon his NFL Combine numbers in numerous drills.
White did not hear his name called during the first seven rounds of the NFL Draft. At Alabama, he was overshadowed by Amari Cooper, one of the top wide receivers in the draft who was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the first round.
"Great athlete. Great route runner, and he's getting better. He's always getting better, and he always wants to work. He's driven, and he can go out and make plays," said Cooper when talking about his Alabama teammate.
White used to be a track star, so running a 4.44 time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine was disappointing for him and he was happy about his improved Pro Day numbers. "I know I'm faster than 4.4," said White.
A number of injuries may have dropped White's stock during the NFL Draft even after a spectacular showing at the Alabama Pro Day. He missed time in 2012 after suffering a season-ending knee injury. Many felt White lost a step after that setback. Following that injury, he suffered through a fractured toe, separated shoulder, and a pulled hamstring.
However, despite all of this, once the NFL Draft was over, the San Francisco 49ers were quick to sign him as an undrafted free agent. Since then, he has turned a lot of heads at the team's OTAs and during the start of minicamp this week.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee had this to say in a recent breakdown of the first day of the 49ers' mandatory minicamp.
"The MVP of practice may have been former Alabama wideout DeAndrew White, who went undrafted. White was a frequent target and caught everything thrown his way, including a 30 yarder from Colin Kaepernick during an all-out blitz by the defense."
49ers.com senior reporter Taylor Price ranked White as the number one standout during the team's previous OTA practices, having the following to say about his performance.
"In a large group of undrafted wide receivers, the Alabama product continues to make veteran-like receptions in OTAs. The final week of voluntary practices saw White go up and repeatedly make rangy catches on balls that were slightly off the mark."
This was an interesting observation considering one of the knocks on White was his inability to adjust to poorly thrown balls. 49ers.com would later call White the best of the 49ers' undrafted rookie wide receivers.
Scout.com's Chris Biderman had this to say about White's minicamp showing.
"Undrafted rookie receiver DeAndrew White (Alabama) has emerged as the favorite target among the team's group of five undrafted receivers. He made catches both short and long Tuesday, and has gained the trust of all three quarterbacks in camp."
He also stated that White was regularly open in underneath routes.
White finished his senior year at Alabama with 40 receptions for 504 yards and four touchdowns in the 12 games that he appeared in, including their bowl appearance. In 2013, he had 32 receptions for 534 yards and four touchdowns and an average of 16.7 yards per catch in 13 games.
The 49ers lost wide receivers Michael Crabtree (Raiders) and Stevie Johnson (Chargers) to free agency. They also did not attempt to re-sign Brandon Lloyd, who remains a free agent. However, they did bring in Baltimore Raven wide receiver Torrey Smith who is reunited with his former teammate Anquan Boldin and gives the receiver group a boost.
If White continues to impress during the offseason and proves that he can also contribute on special teams, it would be tough for the 49ers to let him go. He could be the guy to keep an eye on as the offseason continues.
DeAndrew White Alabama highlights