Greensboro’s Dudley High School has earned a reputation for developing major-college football talent over the last decade, especially at the defensive back positions.
From current Oakland Raiders safety David Amerson (N.C. State) to former East Carolina cornerback Derek Blacknall to Tennessee’s sophomore corner Emmanuel Mosley, Steven Davis has seen them all.
Davis has been the man in charge of the highly successful Class 4-A program at Dudley for more than a decade. So when Davis suggests one of his players has similar potential to those listed above college recruiters tend to listen.
East Carolina’s coaching staff was the first to take Davis’s words to heart on rising Dudley senior cornerback Myles White. The Pirates extended a scholarship offer to White in March, then secured a verbal commitment from the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder while he was on campus for the annual Purple-Gold scrimmage that ended spring practice on April 16.
White became the third member of ECU’s recruiting Class of 2017, joining previously pledged wide receiver Da’Shaun Johnson from Beaufort, NC, and defensive end Taijh Alston of Cameron, NC.
“We’ve had several defensive backs here who went on to play for Division I colleges,” Davis said. “I’d put him right up there with those guys. He doesn’t necessarily emulate those guys. But he’s there as far as his ability and potential.”
Davis first noticed White’s potential as an opponent. He spent the first two seasons of his prep career at Dudley’s rival, Ben L. Smith High School. White earned first-team All-Metro 4-A Conference honors playing wide receiver for Smith as a sophomore.
“He’s a kid we knew about from playing against him for two years,” Davis said. “He played over there (Smith) as a freshman and started both years.
“We kind of knew from watching him those two years about his athletic ability. It’s not often in this day and time you get a cornerback over six feet tall. Those guys are what (college) coaches are looking for. They’re looking for height and speed, and Myles has both.”
White saw the majority of his action last season with the Panthers at cornerback. He made 66 tackles, had a tackle for loss and three interceptions to again earn All-Metro 4-A honors, but this time on defense.
But White’s contributions didn’t end there for a 13-2 team that went unbeaten in the Metro 4-A Conference. He also served as the team’s punter, averaging 37 yards per kick.
One of White’s most memorable performances of the 2015 season occurred in the seventh game against his former teammates at Smith.
“During the first series against his old school he picked off a pass and ran it in for a touchdown,” Davis said. “I don’t even think the quarterback saw him. Myles looked like the receiver on the play. But he ran it in and was so excited about it. He sprinted all the way from the end zone to the sideline.”
Sparked by White’s early interception and touchdown, the Panthers went on to rout Smith 43-0.
It’s plays like those that prompted ECU’s assistant head coach and secondary coach Rick Smith to pursue White. It didn’t hurt the Pirates’ cause that Smith also recruited Blacknell to East Carolina during his first coaching stint there in 2005 to 2009.
Blacknell lettered four seasons between 2008-11 and was a starter as a junior and senior. He was tragically killed in December 2013 in his hometown.
“We’ve always had a good working relationship with Coach Smith,” Davis said. “He gave us his word he’d take care of him (White). Myles went down there for the spring game, liked what he saw and decided to commit.”
“I thought maybe he should wait a minute. But again, some times you see how guys get recruited and for some reason get dropped. We had a kid who committed to East Carolina (offensive lineman Isaiah Little) who committed last year, but when the new staff came in they dropped him. Myles didn’t want to be in that group.”