Blair White and Brett Swenson Set To Audition At 2010 NFL Scouting Combine

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ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. provides in-depth analysis as these former Spartans attempt to improve their stock for the upcoming NFL Draft.



EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State fifth-year senior wide receiver Blair White and senior placekicker Brett Swenson have accepted invitations to participate in the National Football League’s 2010 Scouting Combine, scheduled for Feb. 24-March 2 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. The NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) is organized and operated by National Football Scouting, Inc. NFL Network and will provide more than 30 hours of live coverage from Lucas Oil Stadium.


More than 600 NFL personnel, including head coaches, general managers, scouts and medical staff representing all 32 teams, will attend the Scouting Combine and evaluate the nation’s top 329 college players eligible for the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft through on-field drills, physical testing, psychological exams, as well as formal and informal interviews.


White, who led the Spartans in receptions (70), receiving yards (990) and touchdown catches (9) last season, closed out his collegiate career with a game-high seven catches for 93 yards in the Jan. 23 East-West Shrine Game in Orlando, Fla. He caught a 13-yard pass from Northwestern’s Mike Kafka on the game-winning drive as the East rallied for a 13-10 victory in the final 1:49.


His 70 catches (second), nine TD receptions (fourth) and 990 receiving yards (seventh) rank among the Top 10 single-season totals in Michigan State history. Forty-six of his 70 catches (66 percent) resulted in either a first down or a score, including 15 gains of 20 or more yards. He led the team in receptions in nine of 13 games in 2009.


A first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches, White ranked among the conference leaders in TD receptions (tied first), receiving yards (third at 76.2 per game) and receptions (third at 5.4 per game). He also finished among the NCAA leaders in both receiving yards (No. 35) and receptions (tied for No. 40).


“Blair White had an outstanding senior season,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. “He was our go-to receiver all year long, and he had a number of huge touchdown receptions. Blair is a sure-handed receiver, who runs disciplined routes. He was a major contributor on offense the last two years because he played with such consistency. We could count on Blair to show up on game day.


“I don’t know that I’ve ever coached a player who grew more than Blair did during his career. He became an All-Big Ten receiver because he had all of the intangibles to go along with his raw athletic ability. Blair also provided great leadership for our team both on and off the field. He did a tremendous job here in all aspects – on the field, off the field and in the classroom.”


ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. projects White as a potential fifth- or sixth-round selection in the April NFL Draft.


“I really like Blair White a lot,” Kiper said. “I’ve already highlighted him in several pre-draft previews. At 6-2, he’s got good size, finds ways to get open and made a lot of clutch catches over the last two years.


“With the way NFL teams spread the field now, Blair could become a solid contributor as a third, fourth or fifth receiver. A few years ago, those third, fourth and fifth receivers made their livings on special teams, but not anymore. Those guys are in the regular playing rotation.


“Since the NFL has become a pass-happy league, there’s definitely a role for someone like Blair. If he runs in the 4.5 range at the Combine or in individual workouts, he’ll put himself in a great position to be drafted.”


The 6-foot-2, 200-pound White had six catches for 114 yards against Texas Tech in the 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl, including an 8-yard TD grab from wide receiver Keshawn Martin in the third quarter. His 114 receiving yards tied the fifth-best bowl-game total in MSU history. He also had a 49-yard reception during the same scoring drive. It marked White’s fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season and the sixth of his career.


He caught three passes for 95 yards in MSU’s 15-13 loss to No. 7 Iowa, including a 27-yard gain on a hook-and-lateral play late in the fourth quarter and a 25-yard TD grab from Kirk Cousins with 1:37 left that gave the Spartans’ a 13-9 lead.


White, who set career highs for receptions (12) and receiving yards (186) and matched his career-best with two touchdown receptions in the Spartans’ 24-14 Homecoming victory over Northwestern, was selected Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week. In addition to his selection as Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week, he was named National Wide Receiver of the Week (shared honor with Bowling Green’s Freddie Barnes) by the College Football Performance Awards.


His 12 catches (fourth) and 186 receiving yards (10th) rank among the top single-game totals in Spartan history. In addition, his 186 receiving yards were the highest single-game figure in the Big Ten and the 22nd-best single-game total in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in 2009. White scored on TD grabs of 22 and 47 yards from Cousins in the third quarter against the Wildcats.


White caught six passes for 75 yards and two scores in MSU’s 33-30 loss at Notre Dame. He scored on a 30-yard pass from Martinin the second quarter and a 17-yard strike from Cousins in the fourth quarter that gave the Spartans a 30-26 lead.


The Saginaw, Mich., native recorded back-to-back 100-yard receiving games against Montana State (nine catches for 162 yards and two TDs) and Central Michigan (seven for 105). White scored on TD grabs of 15 and 24 yards from Cousins in the season opener against the Bobcats, and almost one-third of his receiving yards (51 of 162) came after the catch.


A former walk-on, White finished his career ranked among MSU’s all-time leaders in receptions (12th with 116), TD receptions (15th with 10) and receiving yards (16th with 1,674). He caught at least one pass in 24 consecutive games.


White, who graduated in May 2009 with a 3.89 grade-point average in human biology, was named to the 2009 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America First Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). He became MSU’s first Academic All-American since center Chris Morrisand quarterback Drew Stantonearned second-team honors in 2005 and the program’s first first-team selection since safety Steve Wasylkin 1993. White began pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in social science – human resources last fall. He already has been accepted into the University of Detroit Mercy’s School of Dentistry.


Swenson, who ranks as the school’s all-time leader in scoring (377 career points), field goals (71 made) and extra points (164 made), accounted for seven points in the North’s 31-13 victory over the South in the Jan. 30 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. He converted a 43-yard field goal to open the scoring in the all-star game and made all four extra-point attempts.


The 5-foot-8, 185-pound Swenson was named recipient of the Governor’s Award as the team’s most valuable player. His selection marked the first time in the 79-year history of the award that a placekicker earned the team’s top individual honor.


Swenson finished the 2009 campaign ranked second among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision active players in scoring and third in field goals. He also ranks among the Big Ten’s all-time leaders in kick scoring (second), field goals (tied for third), total points (fourth) and extra points (sixth). His .780 career field-goal percentage ranks second in Spartan history.


A first-team All-Big Ten selection and Lou Groza Award semifinalist, Swenson led the conference in kick scoring (7.8 points per game), field goals (tied with Iowa’s Daniel Murray at 1.46 made per game) and field-goal percentage (.864). He led the team in scoring with 101 points, converting 19-of-22 field-goal attempts and 44-of-45 extra-point tries. Swenson became only the second kicker in MSU history to reach the 100-point milestone in back-to-back seasons, joining Dave Rayner (2003-04). He also tied Rayner’s school record with 76 consecutive PATs. His 44 extra points (third) and 19 field goals (sixth) rank among the Top 10 single-season totals in Spartan history. Swenson made nine consecutive field goals during one six-game stretch (Sept. 26 Wisconsin-Oct. 31 Minnesota).


He averaged 61.9 yards on 66 kickoffs, including seven that resulted in touchbacks.


“Brett Swenson had a remarkable career here at Michigan State, completely rewriting the record book,” Dantonio said. “You begin to appreciate what Brett accomplished here when you look at the great kickers who preceded him: Morten Andersen, Paul Edinger, John Langeloh and the list goes on and on. He was almost a unanimous selection as our team MVP and that speaks volumes.


“He made so many clutch kicks throughout his career that I trusted him explicitly when the game was on the line. Brett just didn’t rush himself in those situations. He got himself prepared on the sideline, so he was extremely focused and confident when he came into kick. In my opinion, Brett was the finest placekicker in the country last season because of his accuracy and mental toughness.”


According to Kiper, the top three kickers eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft are Swenson, Ohio State’s Aaron Pettrey and Texas’ Hunter Lawrence.


“Those top three kickers are really competing for one draft position since none of those guys really possess a big leg,” Kiper said. “Brett Swenson certainly has a chance to become that guy because he strikes the ball well, and he’s proven his ability to convert kicks in less than ideal weather conditions. So those factors all help him.


“At this week’s Combine and Michigan State’s Pro Day, Brett needs to display tremendous accuracy from 45-to-48 yards. He doesn’t have to be a long-range guy. The league had so many issues this past season with guys being unable to make that clutch kick that all three of these guys will get a good look. The best case scenario for Brett is to create some separation and nail down a spot in either the sixth or seventh round. There’s still an outside shot that all three kickers go undrafted just because NFL teams are so reluctant to hand the placekicking job to a rookie.


“Do I see Brett being the No. 1 guy for an NFL team two or three years down the line? Absolutely.”


Swenson, who connected on all four of his field-goal attempts at Purdue, including a 21-yard game-winner, was selected Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week. It marked the fourth time in his career that Swenson has earned conference weekly honors. In addition to his selection as Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week, he was named National Placekicker of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards and one of the Lou Groza Award’s Top Three Stars of the Week.


The Pompano Beach, Fla., native matched his career highs with 16 points and four field goals against the Boilermakers. Swenson hit a 28-yard field goal late in the second quarter and a pair of career-long 52-yarders in the third quarter. Keshawn Martin’s 85-yard kickoff return to the Purdue 11-yard line set up his game-winning field goal with 1:51 left. It marked Swenson’s third career game-winning kick (2006 vs. Northwestern and 2008 vs. Wisconsin).


He accounted for 11 points in MSU’s season-opening 44-3 victory over Montana State, hitting 2-of-2 field-goal attempts and all five PATs.


The 2010 NFL Draft will be conducted April 22-24 (April 22 – first round; April 23 – second and third rounds; and April 24 – fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds) at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and televised by ESPN and NFL Network.