Georgia State’s White always ready to make a play

Georgia State's Quavian White prepares to tackle Louisiana-Lafayette receiver Chris Smith.

Credit: Georgia State University

Credit: Georgia State University

When he was a kid, Quavian White’s favorite player was LSU’s colorful Tyrann Mathieu, the “Honey Badger.” Like White, he was undersized, always seemed to be in right place to make a play and had a memorable nickname. White, then at Greer (S.C.) High School, once was dubbed “Showtime” and had the highlight reel to back it up.

Now a junior at Georgia State, White has become one of the top playmakers on the team. Whether it’s with a big pass breakup, an occasional sack on a corner blitz, or a pass interception, White always seems to be around the ball and making a contribution.

“He’s a very gifted athlete,” Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott said. “Speed, quickness, ball skills. All those things make him a good cornerback, and now he’s matured into a player who knows how to respond, how to work, how to accept coaching and how to move forward.”

In two games, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound cornerback has two interceptions, three breakups, 11 tackles (tied for third on the team) and a surprising 1.5 sacks (tied for the team lead).

White said it isn’t easy to play cornerback. “You’re on a highway. You’re out there by yourself, going off the receiver. You’ve got to do the best you can because nobody can help you. You’ve got to buckle down.”

White said a good cornerback needs great eyes, the ability to pace himself and good ball skills. White’s skills were honed during his time in high school, when he was an undersized running back who rushed for 1,438 yards and amassed 2,503 all-purpose yards as a senior.

“I think that helped, me knowing what the receiver is going to do sometimes and have some additional ball skills,” White said. “It helped me judge the balls more.”

It hasn’t hurt his ball-hawking abilities. White has five career interceptions, tied for third on the school’s all-time list and two away from matching the record set by Chandon Sullivan (2014-17).

“It’s being in the right place at the right time,” White said. “When you’re doing the right thing at the right time, the ball is going to come to you. Sometimes the ball is going to fall into your hands.”

And when that happens, White reverts back to his old skills and looks for a place to run.

“It’s like, ‘Oh, man, I’ve got the ball,’” he said. “Then you do something to find a little lane, find a little opening that you can run.”

Elliott has witnessed the work that White has put into improving his skills and appreciates the effort.

“Maturity is one thing he’s improved from his freshman year to this year,” Elliott said. “It’s one thing to go out and play the game. It’s another to be well-prepared and put your best foot forward, knowing you’ve done all the right things.”

About this week’s game: Georgia State (1-1, 0-1 Sun Belt) will play its first road game, traveling to Arkansas State (2-2, 0-1) for a 7:30 p.m. Thursday kickoff on ESPN. The game will be broadcast on WRAS-FM 88.5. Georgia State beat Arkansas State for the firsts time last season, winning 52-38 in Atlanta by running up a school-record 772 yards of total offense. Arkansas State leads the series 5-1.

Arkansas State’s biggest win this season was a 35-31 victory over Big 12-member Kansas State, but the Red Wolves followed that by giving up 52 points in a loss to Coastal Carolina its Sun Belt opener. Arkansas State is led by quarterback Logan Bonner (741 yards passing, eight touchdowns) and top target Jonathan Adams (26 catches, five touchdowns), who is two catches away from becoming the school’s No. 3 all-time receiver.

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