Drake White was one of the few bright spots for the River Kings last season. He played nine games, finishing third on the team in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. “I got the call after the second bye week,” he says. “I had to drop everything and get up to Cedar Rapids right away. I packed three bags — it was all I had — and headed up.
“But I’m used to that,” he continues. “I had a team fold on me one time. I was stranded in Johnson City, Tennessee. I had to live out of my car for a time. ” He laughs. “Free agency’s like that. It’s stressful if you let it be stressful.”
Indoor players quickly grow accustomed to their situations changing without notice, but even by their standards, White’s journey to the IFL has been chaotic. “I didn’t start out as a football player. I was a basketball guy in high school. Before my senior season, [the basketball] coach came to me and wanted to make a deal. I have a good friend, he’s 6’4”, and he was the star of the football team. Coach wanted me to talk him into playing basketball. So I talked to my friend, he went to his coach, and we worked out a trade. He’d play on the basketball team if I’d play on the football team.
“Man, I didn’t know a thing about football,” White laughs. “They asked me what position I played, and I said, ‘I don’t even know what all the positions are!’ They tried me at safety, then moved me over to wide receiver. They figured ‘Hey, he’s a basketball guy, he has this forty inch vertical leap, let’s just send him downfield.’ I ended up with the second most touchdowns in the state of Georgia in our division [2A, the second-largest of Georgia’s football divisions].”
Despite that, White wasn’t offered a college scholarship. “College coaches said, ‘He’s hit or miss.’ Which was true; I really could only run that one route at that time. But I was always working on my game, and so when a friend was able to talk me into a junior college spot, I was the fourth string wide receiver. But then the third stringer flunks out, the second string guy gets hurt, and all of a sudden I’m next up. The next game, we’re down by a few scores and the coach says, ‘Let’s put White in, see what he can do.’ I scored three touchdowns that game, and I was first string after that.”
That opportunity led to a look from Weber State, a NCAA Division I school in Utah. But a training camp injury and a clogged depth chart led him to transfer to Southeast Oklahoma State. “All the time I was working on my game. I had success there; there was even talk I might get drafted [into the NFL]. That didn’t work out, so I looked to the indoor leagues to keep working on my game. ”
Stints followed with the High Country Grizzlies, the Carolina Energy, and the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks. “Everywhere I went, I dominated,” he says, “but teams kept folding up. That’s life, though, you know? Every player goes through ups and downs like that. You’ve got to keep grinding.
“I’ve lived in ten different states over the last four or five years,” he continues. “It’s crazy. But something always comes up. My grandma raised me, and she told me that God will take care of it all. And He always has. I’ve had to sell everything I own to keep chasing this, but still it works out. I got some help from my church family in Oklahoma, some help from friends. But the Lord always provides.
“Whatever you do, keep grinding. I got a workout with the [Houston] Roughnecks in the XFL, a workout with the [Cleveland] Browns. Neither worked out, but I know someday it will. Right now I’m just focusing on improving my game any way I can. I’m looking for a team right now. I’ve talked a bit with Cedar Rapids about coming back; I’ve got a few other leads. I’m looking for a place where I can play right away, with a great family atmosphere. Whatever happens, I trust in God.”