Former Hilltoppers participate in Senior Bowl

Former quarterback Mike White throws a pass down the field during the annual Senior Bowl Saturday, Jan. 27 in Mobile, Ala. White represented WKU alongside former high end Deon Yelder.

Alec Jessie

In a premier offseason showcase, two former WKU football players showcased their talents in the Senior Bowl last weekend.

Quarterback Mike White and tight end Deon Yelder represented the Hilltoppers Saturday afternoon for Team South.

Playing in just the opening quarter, White racked up 128 passing yards on eight completions and a touchdown. Yelder caught his only target of the game for a one-yard score.

White, in particular, impressed draft scouts and analysts during the week of practice and in the game itself.

NFL Network color commentator Mike Mayock loved White’s only quarter of action, saying, “I think, by far, he’s been the most impressive skill player in this game so far.”

Among the notable highlights, the former Hilltopper starting quarterback completed a 63-yard deep ball to Louisiana State’s D.J. Chark and a 14-yard touchdown pass to Central Florida tight end Tre’Quan Smith.

White’s in-game play was the first look that many people got at him, but some experts had been impressed with him all week in practice.

“Western Kentucky QB Mike White appeared to be the steadiest and most accurate of the South team quarterbacks once again on Wednesday,” Pro Football Focus’ Jordan Plocher said after the Wednesday practice. “White’s practice performance will go a long way in helping his draft grade with teams, as he didn’t have the same caliber of statistical season with a new coaching staff and offense that he had 2017.”

Pro Football Focus draft analyst and former Oklahoma State quarterback Bowl Zac Robinson saw a lot of positives in White’s game that can translate to the next level.

“He throws dig routes and up the seam really, really well,” Robinson said of White’s professional outlook. “That stuff bodes well for the next level. He’s got the ability to push the ball to any part of the field, but those in-between the numbers and deep shots are where I see him excel.”

Robinson also believes White’s variety of offensive schemes at the collegiate level will make the  transition to the professional game much easier.

“Having the exposure that he’s had to different offenses and his ability to piece it all together I think will definitely help him when he takes the transition,” said Robinson. “He’ll be able to take things from every offense that he’s had and use that to form into however, in his mind, he can learn it the fastest and compete right away.”

Most mock drafts do not include White in the first round, but he could be the next quarterback off the board after the big names, such as Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield, according to

Deon Yelder didn’t play until the third quarter, but he took the momentum from his impressive bowl performance into Saturday’s showcase.

Yelder mainly served as a blocker while in, but reeled in his only target for a touchdown. He made a contested catch on an out route.

According to Rotoworld, Yelder also had a strong week of practice compared to the other tight ends on Team South and put himself firmly in consideration of a day three pick in May’s draft.  

With White and Yelder’s touchdowns, WKU was the only school to have multiple players account for touchdowns in the Senior Bowl. These two were also the only players from a Kentucky university to play in the game.

White and Yelder will look to build upon their performances in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on March 2-5.

Sports reporter Alec Jessie can be reached at 502-648-7190 and [email protected]. Follow Alec on Twitter at @Alec_Jessie.