Russell White has embarked on his own small crusade. The Crespi High junior, one of the best high school running backs in the nation, wants people to know he is also a capable receiver.
"I have hands, I can catch," White said emphatically.
White rarely has had opportunity to show his form on a pass pattern. He caught only 14 passes for 147 yards and 1 touchdown last year and has only three receptions this season.
But when Crespi throws to White, the results have been explosive. His catches this year have totaled 128 yards and all three have been for touchdowns.
"It's the ultimate surprise," he said. "Very few people know I can catch."
St. Francis learned last week about White's other talents. He caught 2 passes for 91 yards and 2 touchdowns in Crespi's 56-27 win.
But just in case anyone forgot he was a running back, White also rushed for 238 yards and 4 touchdowns on 14 carries. White, the state's leading rushing last year with 2,339 yards, has 1,119 yards and 17 touchdowns this season.
Although increasing White's receptions has its merits, Crespi Coach Bill Redell is not spending sleepless nights devising new plays.
"We're going to work him in a little more, but we average 42 points a game so we hate to change," he said.
And White has no objections to the current work load. "I'm not a selfish type. However many times I get the ball, I'll do it."
Against St. Francis, it took just two passes for White to get his fill. His first reception was a 59-yard bomb from quarterback Rob O'Byrne in the second quarter. "By the time I ran past the cornerback, the ball was there and the free safety didn't have a chance," White said.
On his second reception, O'Byrne hit White cutting across the middle for a 32-yard scoring play.
Said St. Francis Coach Terry Terrazone: "Once you let him loose in the secondary, there's nothing you can do. Once he gets the ball in his hands, he's deadly."
And now that Crespi has found another way to get the ball to him, White is twice as lethal.