When the Chicago Bears drafted running back Kerrith Whyte in the 7th round, everybody said it was for one reason. He’s fast. Really fast. The kid had been clocked at a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash. For somebody that is over 200 lbs, that is impressive. His value both as a runner and as a return man at Florida Atlantic was undeniable. So much, in fact, the team was surprised he chose to leave.
With Devin Singletary, who’d started in front of Whyte the past two years, leaving for the NFL it seemed like the perfect chance for him to finally become the starter. Everybody was certain he’d put up crazy numbers. However, Whyte himself didn’t share that desire. He’d made the decision before the season even began that 2018 would be his last season.
Yet despite never starting or getting a scouting combine invitation, he got drafted anyway. NFL teams crave speed. However, his former head coach Lane Kiffin warns that teams would be making a grave error if they think Whyte is only known for that.
Kerrith Whyte was viewed at FAU as one of the strongest on the team
Kiffin agrees with the initial assessment that Whyte was purely a speed threat when he first got to FAU. However, that changed drastically at the start of last year. It seems Whyte didn’t something he hadn’t to that point. He embraced the weight room, and the transformation was incredible.
“You could tell, obviously, that he had breakaway speed right away. But more than that, between his sophomore and junior years, he changed a lot. He became one of our strongest players in the weight room and really went from a specialty player as a sophomore into something more…
…He just really bought into our strength program and became a weight-room warrior. Whereas before he had been much more of a speed guy. Now he became speed and power. Our strength coach said at one point that pound-for-pound Kerrith was the strongest player on our team.”
This is illustrated in Kiffin’s favorite play from Whyte as a member of the team. It came in 2017 against Louisiana Tech. The running back was returning a kickoff. Whereas he normally ran by everyone with his speed, this time Whyte demonstrated his potential for power.
That ability to bounce off tacklers began to show up more and more over the course of the next season. Something that people didn’t seem to take notice of because they were so enamored with his speed. The Bears noticed though, and they made sure to get him on their roster.