As Jordan White continued to set Western Michigan and Mid-American Conference records and earned national laurels throughout his senior season, he said he hadn’t thought much at all about his professional prospects.
Instead, he said, he was singularly focused on helping the Broncos win a MAC championship — and cited that goal as his reason for overcoming two ACL tears and applying for an injury waiver from the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility.
Now, his immediate pro future is more clear: The New York Jets drafted the North Ridgeville graduate with the 244th pick, the 37th in the seventh round, Saturday evening.
“It’s very fulfilling,” White said from North Ridgeville, where he intermittently watched the draft with his mother and sister. “It’s something you think about as you continue your career, to take your skills to the next level.”
Elyria High grad Danny Noble, who played tight end at Toledo, didn’t get drafted, but he said in a text message he had signed a free-agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Noble said earlier Saturday his agent had gotten calls from a number of teams, including the Cincinnati Bengals and Buccaneers.
White was the second receiver the Jets took in the draft after they traded up in the second round to select Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill. The Jets’ roster currently includes veterans Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress and youngsters Jeremy Kerley, a second-year player from TCU, and Patrick Turner, from Southern Cal. According to media reports from New York, coach Rex Ryan said Hill would start this season.
The Jets also made news in the offseason by signing Tim Tebow, the former Denver Broncos quarterback, and for a highly publicized argument between Holmes and incumbent starting quarterback Mark Sanchez in the huddle during the Jets’ season finale against Miami.
White said he was surprised to be picked by the Jets, with whom he had no contact other than a meeting at the combine with receivers coach Sanjay Lal. White said he spoke by phone with Ryan and Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum about five minutes before the pick was announced.
“It’s a great opportunity,” White said of his new team. “I’ll be under the microscope, and it’ll be different.”
White said in the days leading up to the draft that he was sure he’d be drafted, as his numbers spoke for themselves: He led the nation with 140 catches and 1,911 receiving yards in 2011, while scoring 17 touchdowns, and holds MAC records for career receiving yards (4,187) and season (1,911) and career catches, with 306.
He also holds Western records for career and single-season receptions, receiving yards and 100-yard games, outdoing current Green Bay Packer Greg Jennings, who was a second-rounder in 2006.
“Congrats to fellow WMU alum Jordan White for being selected by (the) Jets. Those guys just captured a great player,” Jennings tweeted.
Yet White was the 32nd and final receiver taken in the seven-round event, and fought concerns over his 40-yard dash time — 4.69 at the NFL’s combine in February and later 4.57 and 4.60 at his pro day — short arms and small hands, not to mention the knee injuries.
White said Ryan told him to be prepared to play the slot, as the team’s rookie minicamp begins Thursday and runs through Sunday. And he’ll be thinking of those that passed on him.
“They’ll see my skills down the road,” White said.
The 6-foot-5, 253-pound Noble broke his right leg Oct. 7 against Eastern Michigan, but ran 40-yard dash times of 4.69 and 4.72 in front of 16 teams at UT’s pro day. Noble said last week that he worked out for Jacksonville and Miami, and his agent had received calls from Tampa Bay and Cincinnati shortly before the draft.
Nine tight ends were drafted over the draft’s three days.
ESPN analyst and former Indianapolis Colts executive Bill Polian said on the network’s coverage Saturday that late in the draft, some players benefit more from going undrafted. That way, they and their agents can evaluate more closely each suitor’s situations and pick the one that fits the player best.
“That’s the way we’re looking at it,” Noble said.