Thursday's news that former NCAA star quarterback Pat White has signed with the Edmonton Eskimos is certainly intriguing, as he's anything but your prototypical CFL quarterback. White threw for 6,049 yards over four years at West Virginia from 2005-2008 (with an impressive 64.8 per cent completion mark), but was perhaps even more prominent for the rushing ability that saw him rack up 4,480 yards during that span. Miami took him in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft, and while his career never really took off south of the border (the Dolphins cut him in 2010, which led him to a brief UFL stint in 2011; he was then out of pro football for two years before a preseason stint with Washington last season), he has an interesting mix of skills that could potentially help him succeed in Canada. The key question is if there's a fit for a running quarterback in today's CFL, though.
The ability to pick up yards on the ground has been crucial for a lot of great CFL quarterbacks over the years, including Damon Allen (11,920 career rushing yards) , Tracy Ham (8,043) and Kerry Joseph (4,470). However, the league hasn't seen nearly as much rushing from quarterbacks in recent years, with most teams focusing on pocket passing rather than scrambling. Last season saw only one quarterback record over 500 rushing yards, and only two others record over 300. White may have found the right destination, though, as the Eskimos were more willing than most to let their quarterback run last year; Mike Reilly led the league's pivots with 709 rushing yards.
That could also prove to be a bit of a handicap for White, though. While some teams have gone to sub packages that emphasize a quarterback's rushing abilities (such as Hamilton putting Dan LeFevour in for Henry Burris at times last year), it seems unlikely that Edmonton would do that too much given Reilly's strong rushing abilities. White's also going to have to deal with a crowded field of potential backups, as the Eskimos also have Matt Nichols and a couple of other promising former NCAA stars in Jacory Harris and Jonathan Crompton. At 28, White is also older than most of those guys. Still, Edmonton's been interested in him for a while, with general manager Ed Hervey trying to sign him last year before he went to the NFL. White certainly has plenty of skill in both the passing and running game, too, as you can see from this highlight tape of him at West Virginia:
Or from this one of him with Washington in last year's NFL preseason, which earned him a brief stay with the club:
It's worth noting that an impressive pedigree doesn't always lead to CFL success, though, especially for quarterbacks. Most of the league's starting pivots in recent years haven't been NCAA stars, and many of the big-name quarterbacks who have been brought in haven't accomplished much. We'll see if White is able to change that pattern, or if he'll just be another entry on the list of big-name quarterbacks who didn't shine in the CFL.