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Oakland native Javin White brings versatility and aggression to Raiders' defense

Javin White waited for his name to be called, anxiously watching the 2020 NFL Draft, but it never happened.

Every year, college prospects have their dreams made into reality, while others face the end of the road; however, White's football career isn't finished just yet.

White grew up in Oakland and attended McClymonds High School, where he had dreams of becoming a wide receiver in the NFL. Naturally gifted with freakish athleticism, White was also a high jumper for the track and field team, which caught the attention of his football coach, Michael Peters.

At McClymonds High School, most of the football team is asked to play both sides of the ball, but Peters knew White would thrive as a free safety, despite rejecting the idea at first.

"We're a small school here in Oakland, so most of our kids play both ways, so we turned him into a free safety," Peters said. "At first he was like, 'Coach, I'm a wide receiver,' but then he started playing the game and he was aggressive. We had a great season with him."

More than anything, White wanted to compete, and he brought energy every practice and during every game. It's rare to see a teenager harp on their friends for not taking things seriously, but when White's teammates would slack off, he took it upon himself to be vocal.

"He came in being a leader, and he'd get on the guys when they'd loaf in, and he's real talkative on the field," Peters recalled. "He's a great leader, so like I said, he's competitive and didn't want anyone to outshine him. He's going to put in the extra work. He'd always stay late after practice, all that kind of stuff; whether it was running routes, or backpedaling when we changed his position."

The extra work carried White from Oakland to Las Vegas, where he suited up for the UNLV Rebels and continued playing on the defensive side of the ball. For three seasons, White played defensive back, totaling 120 tackles, two sacks, and six interceptions, but his senior season the coaching staff moved him to linebacker and featured him in a hybrid role.

That versatility caught the attention of Las Vegas Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock and Head Coach Jon Gruden, who reached out to White during the draft process.

"The Raiders were blowing me up throughout the draft," White shared with FOX5 Las Vegas. "I felt like they were really on me the whole time."

The Silver and Black were among a handful of teams interested in White prior to the draft, but still, he never heard his name called; however, when the draft was finished, Mayock and Gruden gave the Oakland native a ring.

"It's hard to explain, there's no feeling like that," White said regarding going undrafted. "Just waiting and seeing all the names picked, and you just get anxious, and then getting called from teams during the draft and you're just like, your anxiety is going up and it happened the way it happened. I'm just happy the Raiders picked me up and I can play football for more years."

The duo decided to sign White as an undrafted free agent and weren't about to lose him to another suitor. Cowboys Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones had an offer on the table for White, but Mayock and Gruden told him they wanted to pull the trigger and make him a Raider.

Growing up in the shadow of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and living in the Raiders' new home of Las Vegas for five years, few people truly understand the team's impact in the community like White. The opportunity to join a team he's rooted for all his life was too good to pass up, but he still has plenty of work to do.

"I still have to make the team officially, and I know for a fact that I'm going to make the team off my ability and my confidence in myself, and I'm just glad to be a Raider," White expressed with confidence.

White told FOX5 that the Raiders intend to list him as a linebacker, which came as a surprise to him, but it just means he'll need to add some weight. Because of his transition from wide receiver to safety in high school, White knows it's more important to do what's asked of him and help the team win, so wherever the Raiders line him up, he'll play any position.

He didn't hear his name called during the draft, but White's dream of making it to the NFL, and playing for his hometown team happened nonetheless.

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