White, Yelder and Johnson all receive all-star game invites

Senior quarterback Mike White (14) passes the ball down the field during the rival game against Middle Tennessee State University Friday, Nov. 17. 2017 in Houchens-Smith Stadium

Sam Porter

Three WKU football seniors will play at least one more game in between any professional opportunities, as Mike White, Deon Yelder and Chris Johnson have received invitations to 2018 collegiate all-star games.

Quarterback Mike White (Reese’s Senior Bowl), tight end Deon Yelder (NFLPA Collegiate Bowl) and defensive lineman Chris Johnson (SPIRAL Tropical Bowl) were offered to participate in postseason showcases for the top senior football players in the country.

            “I am thrilled that these seniors get an opportunity to continue to showcase their abilities in front of professional scouts against the best talent in the nation,” head coach Mike Sanford said.

            “They have given their all to our program, and we are thankful for their contributions as Hilltoppers on and off the field. We are looking forward to watching them continue WKU’s tradition of producing football players for the next level.”

            White becomes the 1st quarterback in WKU history to receive an invite to Reese’s Senior Bowl. The bowl typically invites the top 6 senior quarterbacks in the nation. He is the first quarterback in WKU history to receive an invitation from the Senior Bowl, which typically invites the top six senior quarterbacks in the nation.

            The Pembroke Pines, Florida native has thrown for a Conference-USA high 3,826 yards this season as well as 24 touchdowns compared to only seven interceptions. He has thrown for 300-plus yards in each of the past seven games, the nation’s longest active streak of consecutive games with 300 or more passing yards, with 22 touchdowns in that span. The graduate senior has accounted for 79.8 percent of the Hilltoppers’ total offense through the air, leading to the No. 6 passing offense in the nation. White is one of 26 quarterbacks in the nation with seven or fewer total interceptions despite attempting at least 34 passes per contest.

            White joins offensive lineman Forrest Lamp (2017), wide receiver Taywan Taylor (2017), tight ends Tyler Higbee (2016) and Jack Doyle (2013), and running back Antonio Andrews (2014) as the only Hilltoppers to ever be invited to the annual bowl game. The Reese’s Senior Bowl will take place on Saturday, January 27th in Mobile, Alabama.

            Since 2016, White’s 8,189 passing yards and 622 completions are the second-most nationally while his interception avoidance mark – one interception every 67 attempts – is also the second-best nationally, behind only Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph’s mark of one every 70 attempts.

            Yelder was invited to the 2018 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Pasadena, California on Saturday, January 20th. A walk on up until this season, the tight end leads the Hilltoppers with five receiving touchdowns, ranks second with 47 catches and third on the team with 576 yards. He also has rushed for a touchdown and scored a pair of two-point conversions, leading WKU non-kickers with 40 points on the year. Yelder was named John Mackey Tight End of the Week following his career performance (seven receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown) vs. Charlotte on Oct. 14.

            Johnson was invited to the 2018 SPIRAL Tropical Bowl in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Sunday, Jan. 14. The defensive lineman is only one of two WKU defenders to start all 12 games this season and has started all 26 games since coming to The Hill from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He ranks third on the team with five tackles for loss and leads the Hilltoppers with seven quarterback hurries in 2017, making at least two tackles in every contest. In his two years in Bowling Green, Johnson has made 85 tackles – including 17.5 for loss – with five sacks.

            All three seniors return to the practice field on Friday as the Hilltoppers await their postseason destination after reaching bowl eligibility for the seventh consecutive season, the longest active streak in Conference USA. WKU enters the bowl season as one of only eight teams in the country who can extend their streak of bowl championships from three to four. The three seniors lead a class that will look to become the first class in WKU history to win four bowl games in four years.