To Hyrin White’s mom, Tracy, the praise sounded like an insult.
Offensive coordinator Derek Dooley approached the mother Saturday after Missouri’s win over Purdue. He told her he didn’t notice Hyrin, the second-string left tackle, during the game.
“‘No, no, no, I’m complimenting him!’” Dooley recalls saying when Tracy looked offended. “We didn’t have to change our calls. … He prepared really well last week, he practiced hard, and he took advantage of his opportunity.”
White replaced first-team left tackle Yasir Durant after the starter sprained his ankle in the second quarter. Pro Football Focus, a college and NFL Draft analysis site, gave White a higher grade than any of Missouri’s offensive players, including star quarterback Drew Lock.
Missouri’s 40-37 win over Purdue marked White’s first time playing for the Tigers in a close game. He didn’t see the field until the score was out of hand against both Tennessee-Martin and Wyoming, and he had redshirted in 2017.
Despite his lack of college experience, White said he didn’t feel over-excited running onto the field. As 50,000 fans watched him play, he acted like he was at a Missouri practice.
“I just went in there and did what I was called to do,” he said.
That was to protect Lock’s blindside, and White succeeded. Purdue only sacked the quarterback once, and the pass rush on that play did not come from White’s side of the line.
“Life’s about opportunity,” Dooley said. “You never know when you’re going to get it, but if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.”
The Tigers scored on White’s first play in the game. The lineman held his pass rusher in check, and Lock floated a pass to Albert Okwuegbunam in the end zone. White was also on the field when time expired, blocking for Tucker McCann as the kicker hit the game-winning field goal.
Right tackle Paul Adams said the offensive line isn’t much of a trash-talking group, but White started chirping at Purdue players as soon as he entered the game. The redshirt freshman’s energy showed his teammates he was ready to go.
“Hyrin’s kind of about that, which makes him fun to play with,” Lock said. “It’s nice to have some nasty o-linemen.”
White played high school football for DeSoto High in Texas and won a state title in 2016. Playing for a high-level program gave White experience in big games, and MU coach Barry Odom said White has done well adjusting to the speed of college football.
When the game ended, Adams made sure to find his fellow lineman. He pulled White in for a hug and “loved him up.”
“I was so impressed with him,” Adams said. “It’s really hard going into a game (when) you haven’t started ever, you’ve barely played really. ... And I think he did an incredible job.”
Odom expects Durant to play Saturday against Georgia. As for White? He’s back to second-string, prepared to pounce whenever needed.