White cut by Colts, signed by Cleveland by David Lias Local fans of University of South Dakota and NFL football could feel nothing but delight Aug. 24 when watching Jamel White of the Indianapolis Colts, a former Coyote, streak down the field for a 96-yard touchdown run against the Minnesota Vikings in pre-season action.
They also could feel nothing but disappointment at the news early this week that White, despite his stellar performance against Minnesota, was cut by the Colts.
The Colts' self-inflicted loss, however, will apparently be a plus to the Cleveland Browns.
Browns Coach Chris Palmer said newly acquired running back/kick returner White is expected to play on special teams this weekend.
"He will play a major role in special teams," Palmer said. "We'd like him to return kicks. The fact he took back a kick for a touchdown shows he can handle that."
The rookie running back was one of 14 players cut Aug. 27 by the Indianapolis Colts to meet the NFL-mandated 53-player roster limit.
White, an undrafted rookie hoping to make the team as a free agent, rushed for one touchdown and returned a kickoff 96 yards for another TD as the Colts beat the Minnesota Vikings 32-30 Thursday night in their final game of the preseason.
But White lost out to fellow undrafted free agent Kevin McDougal, who was the team's leading pre-season rusher with 120 yards on 32 carries.
"We released some good football players," Jim Mora, coach of the Colts said. "You have to look at the whole squad and make decisions based on that."
Besides his touchdown run against the Vikings, White rushed for 68 yards on 33 carries (2.1 average), including a touchdown. He also caught six passes for 76 yards and returned seven kickoffs for 224
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yards in that pre-season game.
To Vermillion fans, that made him appear as a shoo-in on the Colts roster as NFL teams trimmed players this week to meet a mandated 53-member limit.
It appears that locals can still cheer for White � as a Cleveland Brown, not an Indianapolis Colt.
"We picked up White from Indianapolis when he became available," Palmer said. "If you were at the practice in Columbus, you would've probably noticed him against our linebackers in the one-on-one situations. He has tremendous speed and tremendous quickness.
"He took a kickoff back for touchdown against Minnesota in the preseason game," Palmer added. "Two clubs claimed him and we had the priority."
Palmer explained the reason White is on the active roster instead of Rahshon Spikes.
"We wouldn't have been able to claim White because Indianapolis wanted him back to the practice squad," Palmer said. "He said (Indianapolis) told him they made a mistake."
Palmer said the Browns have followed him even before the draft.
"We had a file on him," Palmer said. "(Special teams coach) Mark Michaels worked him out. He had a pretty impressive scrimmage against us in Columbus."
White is happy the way things have worked out for him.
"It's a good chance for me to come from the Colts," White said. "I want to go out and work hard and earn a place to stay here (with the Browns)."
White was not invited to the rookie combine in Indianapolis and feels he was not noticed because he played at a small school. His size, 5-9, 206 pounds might also have been a factor.
"I played at a division II school," White said. "I think I can catch the ball out of the backfield pretty well and can run the ball well."
White rushed for 2,231 yards in two years at South Dakota and set 11 school records. He said he played in the Division II All Star Game called the "Snow Bowl" and caught the attention of the Colts there.
Mora said the decision to remove White from the Colts' rosters wasn't an easy one.
"There was more discussion, agonizing, deliberation, disagreement, agreement, and tougher decisions to make with some of the cuts than there was the last few years," he said.
Editor's note: Information from the Associated Press and the Web site of the Cleveland Browns contributed to this report.