It has been over a decade since a UNLV football player has been drafted by an NFL team in the draft. Some Rebels have managed to get on NFL rosters as an undrafted free agent, but it has been a significant amount of time since a UNLV player heard their name called in the NFL draft.
Many felt that 2020 would be the year that would change, with eyes on Rebel defensive star Javin White. While at UNLV, White developed into a leader on defense, as someone the Rebels could count on to make a big play when they needed one.
Unfortunately, White’s name was not called during any of the seven rounds of the NFL draft. However, shortly after the conclusion of the draft, the Las Vegas Raiders dialed up White and added him to the team as an undrafted free agent. While that might not have been the way White would have liked to get into the NFL, he has shown at UNLV that he is a capable NFL player and the Raiders are noticing.
White began at UNLV as a defensive back and over time transitioned to a linebacker. With the Rebels’ struggle on defense, they relied on White to fit into whatever hole UNLV needed to fill on defense. And week in and week out, he continued to make plays all over the field for the Rebels. With someone who can play sideline to sideline like that, he could be a body that helps the Raiders on defense.
After only a short time on the practice field with the entire team, White’s performance has caught the eyes of head coach Jon Gruden and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.
“There’s a young kid out of Nevada-Las Vegas,” Gruden said in a press conference a few weeks ago, “a young undrafted free agent, Javin White, who’s doing some good things here.”
“White has been a pleasant surprise,” Guenther said this week. “This guy, to me, is as good of a college free agent prospect that I’ve seen in a long time. He communicates, he can run, he’s really understanding the defense, and once we get the pads on, we can see what he can do.”
Guenther has been criticized for the defense’s short comings, however, much of the issues for the Las Vegas Raiders on defense has been their depth. When one person went down, it put them in a real tough spot. They would not be able to run what they would want on defense schematically because somebody was injured and they did not have a lot of depth.
Now, the Raiders feel they have enough depth at the position, filled with guys they like, that their defense could take the next step this season, and will not suffer if somebody goes down. White likely will not start or see a significant amount of playing time this year, be he can use his versatility as an asset as he tries to get playing time.
White showed through his time at UNLV how athletic he is, and how much of a difference he can make on the field. 123 of his 199 total tackles were solo tackles. 18 of which were tackles for loss. At 6-foot-2, 211 pounds, he can fly across the field and apply a big hit when needed.
Not only are Raiders coaches impressed by White, but he has caught the eye of his fellow teammates. Max Crosby, who had a breakout rookie season for the Raiders last season with 10 sacks, was impressed with how White performed after the team’s first day practicing in pads.
“I saw Javin White come downhill a few times,” Crosby said, “like an animal...he did some good things.”
His intelligence and awareness on the field helped him where the ball was or was going to make a play. White’s most memorable game came in 2018 when he recorded two of his nine total interceptions. Two fourth quarter interceptions against UNR sealed a win and the Fremont Cannon for UNLV as they came back form a three touchdown deficit.
White has the ability and talent to play at the NFL. He has impressed many with the Raiders, and if he develops and continues to project upward, he could be a regular on the gridiron for Sundays to come.
Here is some of White’s highlights from UNLV last season: