Several factors contribute to Lee's down year

Fullback Marcus White leads Robert E. Lee in rushing with 588 yards and three touchdowns, and averages more than nine yards per carry. (Herb Nygren Jr. | Tyler Morning Telegraph)

Marcus White is listed on Robert E. Lee’s roster at 5-6, 189 pounds. Actually, according to White, he is 5-4, 178 pounds. 

So, it’s understandable that opposing teams overlook the junior fullback.

Not anymore.

In Lee’s two district games against Mesquite Horn and DeSoto, White’s stat line: 40 carries for 369 yards and two touchdowns. White broke loose for a 75-yard scoring run last Friday to go along with carries of 29, 29, 37, 15 and 18 yards he had against Horn.

“He’s not the tallest, the fastest or anything like that, but his heart fills up his chest,” said Lee coach Randy Huffstickler. “If we had 25 or 30 (of him) we’d love it.”

Despite playing fullback, White leads REL with 588 yards rushing and three touchdowns, averaging nine yards per carry. What makes it more impressive is White has only played in five of Lee’s seven games.

White grew up watching Emmitt Smith, and like the Hall of Famer, likes to do the majority of his damage between the tackles. Very rarely does Smith go around the edge, preferring to take advantage of his blocking.

“It’s hard to see me. Some guys tell me they don’t see me until the end and they are looking at my back,” White said. “I feel like when I get the ball, I can score. I try to run everyone over. I don’t try to go around them.”

White made his varsity debut last year in REL’s regular-season finale against North Mesquite. 

The Red Raiders trailed 7-3 in that must-win game and had second-and-nine from near midfield. The then-sophomore looked invisible in the shotgun behind center Jimmy Landes (now at Baylor), but after receiving the Wildcat snap, he burst up the middle for a 34-yard gain. White followed that up later with an 8-yard touchdown run as REL defeated North Mesquite 44-28.

This season began slowly for White, who rushed for 18 yards at Euless Trinity and 49 against Lufkin.

But the junior broke out in Week 3 against John Tyler. White finished with a then season-best 109 yards and a touchdown.

A promising junior season was put on hold after White and teammate Justin Ewini were suspended two games by Huffstickler for breaking team rules.

“It was real hard because I know Justin and I could have really (contributed),” White said.

White was anxious to make up for lost time in Lee’s league opener against Mesquite Horn. His first carry went for a 29-yard touchdown. The only reason White did not score again on later runs was the speed of Jaguars defensive back Devante Harris (Oklahoma signee), who was able to catch White from behind.

“My teammates were telling me I could’ve outrun them, but I didn’t trust my speed (against Horn), but I feel like I can now,” White said.

This was evidenced by White’s second-half carry against DeSoto. The junior hit the hole and left the Eagles secondary behind him all the way to the end zone.

“The two games we didn’t have him hurt us, but he’s grown as a young man (from that),” Huffstickler said. “Sometimes you make bad choices and you learn from it and move on. I told him when he came back to get in there and run it and he’s earned his spot. He’s been a good asset to us.”

With three District 11-5A games to play, the Red Raiders (1-6, 0-2) are once again facing a must-win scenario as they travel this Friday to Mesquite.

If the 150-plus yard efforts continue, White is on pace for over 1,100 yards and many more touchdowns. The junior said he is willing to do whatever or run over whoever it takes to get the Red Raiders a victory.

“I think the offensive line and running backs are the heart of this team and we are going to have to step it up,” White said. “We know we are going to have to score a lot of points. If we can finish out strong, we can make the playoffs and do some things.”  

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