Times Elite 8 No. 7: Parkway’s Jaylan White overcomes fears to excel as a runner

Jimmy Watson
Shreveport Times

Obviously, Parkway’s Jaylan White has overcome his fear of carrying the football, but there are other fears he’s yet to master.

Like fishing. 

“My baby is scared of everything about fishing, including the pole,” said Quilla Durham, White’s mother, with a chuckle. “He’s so scary and he will not touch a fish.”

White was also afraid of learning to drive while taking a recent driver’s education course. And then there was the fear of running the football faster than anyone in the state of Louisiana.

“Jaylan was scared of football, too, when he first got to Parkway,” Parkway assistant football coach Mathew Sewell said. “At our initial home game in 2020 on his first two touches he fumbled. One was a kickoff that was right in front of him that he didn’t catch. After the second one, he took his helmet off and said, ‘I can’t do it. Take me out of the game.’ And we did. He didn’t play a snap the next two games. Three weeks later, Ron Richmond got hurt the first play of the game, and Jaylan had to go in. He was still scared, but he had 192 yards that night and hasn’t looked back since.”

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The Shreveport Times Elite 8 athlete Jaylan White of Parkway High school, photographed on July 23, 2022.

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White’s ability to overcome his fear in dramatic fashion to become one of the most successful running backs in the state is why the senior has earned the No. 7 position on The Times Elite 8 list of 2023 football recruits in Northwest Louisiana.

“Jaylan’s speed is the first thing you notice. When you turn on the film from last year, it doesn’t take long to see the explosion and big-play capability,” said Parkway coach Coy Brotherton. “This offseason he ran a 6.9 in the 60-meter at an indoor meet at LSU followed by a fourth-place finish in the 100 at the LSWA state outdoor meet.”

White, who loves hot wings and french fries at Buffalo Wild Wings, also bulked up to 180 pounds at 5-foot-9 by spending a lot of time in the weight room. But it’s the breakaway speed that’s attracting nearly every SEC school to check on him.

“My favorite thing is seeing him go through a hole in the line and no one being able to catch him,” Durham said. “He can get down the field quickly.”

Parkway offensive coordinator Matthew Sewell

White has secured eight offers, including Mississippi State, TCU and UL Monroe, and has taken a few visits but isn’t close to committing. Durham said her son needs to improve his 2.8 GPA to make sure he can attend the school of his choosing. He has a 20 on the ACT after one attempt. 

“Obviously, he’s explosive with the ball in his hands. He’s a tough runner who can run inside and outside,” Sewell said. “He catches the ball at a high level as well. What most people don’t know is that he has a very high football IQ. He can line up anywhere, and always understands what we’re trying to do on offense. He’s an unselfish player and a great teammate. We love coaching him.”

White has long put any fear of carrying the football behind him. Last season, he led the Panthers with 1,850 yards and 15 touchdowns while working at Altitude Trampoline Park. Since his visit to Mississippi State a few weeks ago, the Bulldogs have put on a blitz to recruit him.

“They made us feel a part of the team while we were there,” Durham said. “And Jaylan received over 300 letters, about 25 a day, from players, coaches, administrators and people in the school thanking us for coming.”

That approach may work, but White’s dream school is Oregon State. Apparently, he isn’t afraid of flying.

Jimmy Watson covers Shreveport-Bossier area sports. Email him at jwatson@shreveporttimes.com and follow him on Twitter @JimmyWatson6.