Monday, July 28, 2008

Pat White and Justin Feagin: Can We Compare Them?

Ask and ye shall receive. Following the first edition of our Michigan Football Roundtable, reader Mikey asked if we could compare incoming freshman Justin Feagin to West Virginia demi-god Pat White. Although it is entirely unrealistic to expect Feagin to turn out as well as White, comparisons between the two aren't as far-fetched as one would initially think.

LSU Wideout, or WVU Heisman-caliber Quarterback? Methinks White made the right choice.

First, let me give a rundown of the similarities between the two quarterbacks. Both were recruited as three-star athletes. Pat White very nearly committed to LSU as a wide receiver, and Feagin was recruited as a wideout by LSU as well (and also as a defensive back by Miami). While recruiting rankings are admittedly somewhat of a crapshoot, Feagin is actually rated slightly higher by Rivals (5.7 out of a possible 6.1) than White was in 2004 (5.5). Pat White had a 4.45 40-yard dash time in the books before entering college, and although Feagin's isn't listed, that LSU offer means SEC Speed Yaaaah Git 'Er Dun (I think that translates to somewhere in the 4.5 range). Pat White measured in at 6'1", 180 lbs.; Feagin at 6'0", 190. On the surface, these guys looked pretty similar coming out of high school.

LSU Wideout, or Future Michigan Starting Quarterback? The jury is very much still out.

However, not every three-star-athlete-turned-quarterback becomes a bona-fide Heisman candidate. In fact, Pat White is the only one I can think of in recent memory, and there are a lot of three-stars out there. For those who hope Feagin can contribute immediately, there is not a whole lot of hope out there. White had a redshirt season under his belt before leading West Virginia to an 11-1 record in 2005, and his numbers that season (65-114 for 828 yards, 8 TD, 5 INT; 952 yards and 7 TD rushing) didn't exactly set the world on fire, at least when it came to putting the ball in the air. Yes, everyone remembers White and Steve Slaton running all over Georgia in their Sugar Bowl upset victory that season, but West Virginia barely escaped at home against East Carolina earlier in the season, and cruised through a weak Big East Conference.

Taking a look at their respective highlight reels, there a couple noticeable differences in their games. Let's take a look.

Pat White:

Justin Feagin:

First of all, White seems to be a lot faster, although that may be a product of having three-plus years of Barwis-izing under his belt (his tape is from the 2007 season, his redshirt junior year). White also appears to be a lot better at changing direction on a dime, making defenders look like they're still playing high school ball while he's playing at a much higher level. Feagin tends to just push defenders off of him while switching direction, something he probably won't be able to do in the Big Ten. When Feagin realizes that he is not faster and stronger than anyone else on the field, he will have to switch up his running style so he doesn't get carted off the field after cutting right into whatever Penn State linebacker gets wildly overhyped this year.

As for throwing the ball (you know, what quarterbacks are supposed to do) neither are exactly Tom Brady in arm strength or accuracy. As stated earlier, White was a pretty terrible passer when he was a freshman, and he really had to rely on his feet to generate any offense. Feagin, from the looks of the tape, has the ability to throw on the run and is fairly accurate. However, it is hard to take much away from a high school highlight tape, especially when that tape makes a 6'0", 190 lbs. quarterback look like the next coming of Bo Jackson. Feagin is clearly a run-first, pass-second quarterback, which is fine for Rich Rodriguez's system until the defense completely ignores the pass and beheads the quarterback on a zone read. That's when you hope Feagin has the shiftiness of White, is able to sidestep the linebacker/guillotine, and proceed to dash past the opponent's stunned secondary.

Feagin comes into Michigan with every chance to start, being the only quarterback on the roster who anyone with the ability to feel pity wants to see run the spread option. However, he has a steep hill to climb if he wants to start for Michigan in his freshman year: learning a new and complicated playbook while starting way behind Steven Threet, who already has a full spring to build on. Can he be Pat White II? I wouldn't bet on it, but stranger things have happened.

Pat White Statistics (ESPN)
Pat White - Football Recruiting (Rivals) ($)
Justin Feagin - Football Recruiting (Rivals) ($)
2005 West Virginia Mountaineers Football Team (Wikipedia)


Mikey said...

Haha...thanks Ace for the analysis, well done. It has to be coincidence that Feagin is sporting the #5 jersey.....maybe Rich Rod has some aspirations for the young ATH? Personally I rather have Feagin behind the wheel of the offense as he more experience with the spread option versus a quarterback whose football team we beat in high school and did not produce any renowned 5 star prospects for college.

Mikey said...

Oh yeah and I'm not sure if I'm putting my money on having a Dual-"Threet" QB...

Anonymous said...

Interesting overview and perspective. Both Pat White and Justin Feagin are intelligent and talented student athletes and we're proud that they each bring such an exciting appeal to college football.

D. Feagin