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04-14-2009, 01:27 AM
NFL teams look at college players with Wildcat in mind


The Kansas City Star

Even in the copycat world of the NFL, Miami coach Tony Sparano was surprised how many teams imitated the Wildcat formation the Dolphins introduced last season.
The Dolphins, after starting the season with two losses, were in a fit of desperation when they installed a package that called for the ball to be directly snapped to running back Ronnie Brown in certain situations. He responded by rushing for four touchdowns and passing for another in a shocking upset of New England.
Brown threw only two more passes the rest of the season, but the threat was there. And other teams, including the Chiefs, broke out their versions of the Wildcat.
“I wish I had a dollar for every person who ran it,” Sparano said. “But I was surprised only because we knew when we rolled it out during the course of the New England week, that you’re taking a chance.
“We also knew that, hey, this might be a two-play deal. We might go out there for two plays, and if it backfires or it doesn’t give us the look that we wanted, maybe we don’t see it anymore. We were able to go with it a little bit longer. But to see other people running it, that surprised me a little bit.”
Now, with the NFL draft approaching, teams are looking at players with the Wildcat in mind.
“There are a lot of those kinds of players out there, the potential Wildcat guys, whether they’re different positional players that have the skill to run the football that maybe have thrown the football,” Sparano said.
Some of those Wildcat candidates are running backs. And two of the most intriguing prospects are West Virginia quarterback Pat White and Rice tight end James Casey.
White, a 6-0 1/4 , 197-pound lefty, considers himself a quarterback and not a running back or slot receiver or any other position for which some teams may be considering him. The only quarterback to ever win four bowl games as a starter, White also earned MVP honors as a quarterback at the Senior Bowl.
“I’m still working to be a quarterback, and until somebody tells me ‘No,’ I am going to continue to,” White said. “I also want to keep my options open and the best opportunity to play football … and do whatever is best for me.
“I think the implementation of the Wildcat and other spread systems will definitely help me out because of the style of offense we ran at West Virginia.”
White’s time of 4.55 in the 40-yard dash was the fastest among all quarterbacks at the NFL scouting combine, as was his leap of 35 inches in the vertical jump. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper believes White can take the Wildcat a step further than running backs like Brown and Oakland’s Darren McFadden, a former quarterback who ran the Wild Hog formation as a collegian at Arkansas.
“Pat White can throw the ball,” Kiper said. “Pat White gives your defense a lot to think about. You can use him for seven to 10 plays in a game as a conventional quarterback, not just a Wildcat quarterback. He goes far beyond that type of quarterback.”
Both White and Casey are former baseball players as well. White, an outfielder, was a fourth-round choice of the Los Angeles Angels coming out of high school in 2004 and was drafted twice while in college. Casey spent three seasons as a hard-throwing but wild pitcher in the Chicago White Sox organization before playing seven different positions at Rice, including quarterback, holder, deep snapper and punt returner.
Casey caught a Conference USA single-season record 111 passes last season, rushed for 240 yards and threw two touchdown passes.
NFL teams look at college players with Wildcat in mind

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Ed Reinke


He has Wildcat written all over him. At Rice, his nickname was not Slash, but Thor.

“We had a ‘Thor package’ when I came in at quarterback and ran the ball, and it just kind of stuck with me and guys called me Thor,” Casey said.
“I think the Wildcat formation is definitely something I’m suited for. I’m experienced at it. I played the receiver role. I’d come in on third-and-short with how the Wildcat is. I could also throw the ball really well if need be to even threaten the defense even more. I think it’s something I’m definitely capable of doing if a team is willing to give me a chance.”
No doubt someone will, even if Casey will be 25 years old as a rookie.
“I like Casey,” said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. “You can line him up anywhere. He has as good of ball skills as anybody in the draft. He really can track the football. And he can also throw the football. He’s a high school quarterback, he was a baseball player. You can line him up in the Wildcat. I don’t think he’s as fast as … a prototypical Wildcat guy, but you can line him up anywhere.”

04-14-2009, 09:14 AM
We already have TT:11: