ASU football was forced to search for answers after suffering its most disappointing loss of the season to Washington State just under two weeks ago.
The Sun Devils, who had trailed 28-0 in the second quarter, rushed for just 49 yards in the first half. The missing piece was star redshirt senior running back Rachaad White, who was out with a leg injury he sustained against Utah.
White plays as ASU's lead running back and has proven to be one of the Pac-12's best. He leads the team with 685 rushing yards and has scored 12 rushing touchdowns, the second-most among running backs in the conference.
His capabilities as a receiver add to his immensely talented skillset. He is second on the team with 29 receptions. The difference between him and his backups, sophomore DeaMonte Trayanum and redshirt freshman Daniyel Ngata, in the passing game is immense. The two have just four receptions each.
White's presence in the backfield isn't just dangerous because of what he can do on the ground, but his versatility in the passing game makes him a focal point for opposing defenses to contain. Against the Cougars, the Sun Devils felt his absence.
White made an emphatic return the following week versus USC with a season-high 28 rushes for 202 yards and three touchdowns.
READ MORE: Rachaad White leads ASU football over USC
The biggest game in his ASU career earned him Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career.
"He’s the type of guy when he gets the ball in his hands, you don’t know if it'll be a three-yard run or a 25-yard run," head coach Herm Edwards said. "When he gets in the back end of the defense, I think he's a lot faster than defenders anticipate. USC has some fast guys in their secondary and not one of them caught up to him."
In his performance against USC, White accumulated the sixth-most rushing yards for an ASU running back in a conference game since 1978.
White's contributions to the offense have been invaluable. Since his debut in 2020, ASU is 6-0 in games when he scores multiple rushing touchdowns.
Edwards offered high praise for White, comparing him to NFL Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen.
"He has the same stature Marcus had," Edwards said. "He also has the same ability to cut, the same vision (as a ball carrier) and he can also catch the ball really well."
White's performance against USC last week was almost single-handedly how ASU won, tallying 237 of the team's 427 offensive yards.
"It came to a point where he had the hot hand," said running backs coach Shaun Aguano. "I could see it in his eyes that he wanted to lead the team. I thought he was the most dangerous guy on the field."
White's humbleness and natural happiness are two of many reasons he is well-respected in the Sun Devil locker room. Even teammates on the opposite side of the ball adore his style of play and overall demeanor.
"I love his attitude and the way he approaches the game," graduate student defensive back Timarcus Davis said. "I love watching him play football. I've never seen him get down on himself and he always has good energy."
White's draft stock has also continued to rise throughout the season, with NFLDraftBuzz.com rating him the seventh-best running back in the 2022 draft.
But for ASU right now, he's the team’s most dynamic offensive player. ASU's path will follow his success.
"Rachaad is a very special running back and the film always shows that," junior offensive lineman LaDarius Henderson said. "He brings that explosive-play factor that every team in the country wants. He showed that last year and he continues to show it this year."
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