Closer looks at Darius White and Dominic Granado

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Let's watch film!

We'll go ahead and get right into it starting with White, who figures to be in the starting cornerback mix from day one.

[As always, I am not a professional talent evaluator and am always learning about the game. These are some thoughts.]

Darius White

Hudl highlights

Full disclosure: there are certain player archetypes that I tend to favor, with scatbacks and running quarterbacks leading the list. But if those are the first two, then a close third would be gigantic corners, and at a listed 6'1, 185, White fits that label better than anyone we currently have -- Cal's roster has exactly two 6'0 defensive backs, neither of whom are likely to see playing time soon.

As for his actual on-field play, what the tape shows is a very fluid player. He's got some decent ballskills, having picked off six passes for Itawamba last season. I've charted those plays for you.

  • 0:10 - Itawamba is in a cover-2 zone, but because they only rush three defenders, there are four guys sitting underneath, not including the two corners. White drops into his right flat, but reads the out coming his way, stops on a dime, and then picks it off. Nice ability to stop his backward momentum and drive toward the ball.
  • 0:21 - White lined up in cover-3 on the outside. He's got about an 8 yard cushion on his receiver, who runs a go route/streak [choose your terminology]. When the pass is underthrown, White stops his backpedal and hauls it in.
  • 0:53 - This looks like cover-4/quarters, but I could be wrong here. I'm basing this read off the fact that all four secondary players drop back, but the corner opposite White passes off responsibility for his receiver when he runs inside, while White's receiver goes vertical up the field and he remains in coverage. Anyway, whatever the case, this go-route is slightly overthrown, which lets White make a play on it against his bigger receiver.
  • 1:06 - Underthrown pass in cover-2 man. White read it all the way -- you can see his head looking in the backfield the entire time as he keeps pace, knowing he has a safety up top.
  • 1:23 - Tip drill! Another Itawamba defender gets a hand on the ball, and White, sitting in the flat in zone coverage, gets to benefit.
  • 1:35 - Cover-3. White's man runs a post -- yes, you guys, I know the difference -- into the middle of the field, but he tracks the underthrown pass for his sixth interception of the year.

A couple of these are absolute gifts thanks to poorly thrown passes, but the first two show off some pretty good stop and start skills on his part, as well as some fluidity turning his hips [2nd play in particular]. A consensus 3-star prospect, he certainly looks ready to play to me, and definitely no worse than anyone who's already set foot on the field for us last year. He's not an elite guy in terms of foot speed, but you can compensate for that with good movement, intelligence, and scheme. We'll see what the new defensive coordinator does with that.

There's also a few instances that indicate White is a very well prepared player, whether that's instinctive, coached, or studied on film. Several times on this reel, he's already snuffed out the play before it even begins, particularly at 2:35, when he swallows the receiver comes out for a bubble screen, and again at 4:49. Both times, the quarterback chooses not to throw the route because White has already sat on it.

Playing pass defense is, of course, only half the job of a cornerback. One of the more underappreciated duties for a corner is to be effective in run support, whether that's tackling ballcarriers on the edge, or fighting through blocks to force them back into other defenders, and White does plenty of that. He's got a nice physicality to him on tape, often making contact with receivers just to send a message -- and when I make this comment, I mean he's hitting wide receivers on plays in which the ball is on the other side of the field.

[I should note that most defensive backs look physical on film, so we'll see how that translates when he's on campus.]

Dominic Granado

Hudl highlights

Playing right tackle, left tackle, and even guard here, Granado's athleticism is probably what pops out the most. At a reported 285 pounds, he moves quite well, regularly sprinting out ahead of ballcarriers and into the second level, with 1:06 being a great example of this. He's likely heading to play tackle for us, and therefore won't likely be asked to pull or attack linebackers often, but it's nice to know that's in his arsenal, especially for an offense that occasionally uses its linemen to spring blocks in space.

Granado can also use that quickness in shorter bursts -- there are a good number of plays, like at 1:15, where he's able to get around the opposing defensive end in order to seal him inside. He looked to have left a bit early there, but you'll see it again at 2:30, as well.

One other thing to like about Granado is that he'll play whistle to whistle -- if he doesn't have anyone to block, he'll find someone, and if he does have someone to block, he is relentless enough to make sure they stay out of the play [2:00], even lying on top of them to ensure that [0:42, 2:40].

There's also nice handling of a twist up front by Granado at 2:24. That kind of stuff often gives young offensive linemen trouble, which is an advantage of bringing him in. This is punctuated by a shove toward the end of play, which goes back to my previous point. A bit of a mean streak with him, as indicated by the plays at 2:44 and 2:52, but that too, is a quality you'd like to have in your linemen.


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