In football, when someone's nickname is "The Road Grader," it's generally a good guess that he isn't a fleet-footed wide receiver.
The Jets' "Road Grader," Dwayne White, was an offensive guard who'd step back into the fullback position in short-yardage situations to clear a path for the halfback. And, well, the name fit.
Chosen by the Jets in the seventh round of the 1990 NFL Draft out of Alcorn State, White was dumbfounded, but excited to be heading to New York.
"I had one contact with the Jets prior to Draft Day," White said. "Most scouts, they come out and want to test you in lifting weights and get your weight and maybe give you a test for your mind. But all he wanted to do was get a 40(-yard dash) time on me outside on grass.
"He said, 'I already have it set up. Do whatever you've got to do and let me know when you're ready.' So, being the big man that I am, I touched my toes a few times and said, 'Let's go.' He was pretty surprised and said, 'You don't want to warm up?' And I said, 'No. By the time I run around, I'll be tired. I'm a big man. I'm ready to go.'"
One of only two offensive linemen picked by the Jets that year – Roger Duffy was the other – White was ready to go right away. And because Bruce Coslet was New York's first-year head coach, White and Duffy kind of found themselves on even ground with the veteran players.
"I didn't see it that way at the time. I was just trying to hustle and do what I could do to make the team. But reflecting back now and looking over things, I can say that it definitely probably helped us because it gave us a clean slate. You have a new coach coming in and he wants his own people. So, it definitely helped us," said White, who still had to fulfill the rookie tradition of supplying donuts daily for the older linemen.
White became the starter at right guard with five games left in his rookie campaign.
"It was a difficult adjustment. I had Dennis Byrd on me every day in practice, and he was one of the best linemen I'd ever gone against," White said. "So, it was a learning experience. Plus, the fact that when I was in college, I had always played tackle. I had never played the guard position in college or high school.
"So, coming to the pros and having to play the guard position was totally different because you have people coming from both ways, your right side and your left side. You have to do what's called 'put your head on a swivel' during pass blocking. At the tackle position, you're looking to your outside more than what's going on inside."
With the Jets for five seasons from 1990-94, White went on to play for two years with the then-St. Louis Rams. What makes him most proud of his career?
"I reflect back on different things, and seeing the influence that I had upon youth, receiving mail or what have you, I had one situation where I found out that the young kid had passed away," White said. "His parents wrote and they told me how much he looked up to me, how much I inspired him. Because he was a large individual, as well.
"And they sent me baseball tickets to go see a Mets game, and that really meant a lot to me. It makes you think about the impact you have upon the youth, upon others."
Following football, White went back to school and earned a master's degree, and was then the athletic director at his alma mater, Alcorn State, from 2012-14. He then became an adjunct faculty advisor/instructor at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami, Florida.
He may now be retired, but that doesn't mean he still isn't teaching.
"I have a young daughter, Aza, and with everything that's going on, especially with COVID, I'm actually utilizing my graduate degree in helping to teach her," White said. "That's invaluable. Time. Time is something that you can't buy."
White, his wife, Zakkiyyah, and Aza, make their home in South Florida. A licensed attorney and real estate broker, she is also the managing partner and chief strategy officer of a title company, Title Xperts, LLC.