Ricardo Allen has covered several of the nation's top receivers in his two seasons at Purdue, but he prefers not to make comparisons.
Allen views Western Michigan senior Jordan White as simply the next challenge in his path.
"Every wide receiver always has their different traits," Allen recently told ESPN.com. "So if you go in thinking this wide receiver is like another wide receiver, you might mess up and mistake him and get beat on some plays. So I give every wide receiver the benefit of the doubt of being good, and they're all different."
White is very good, and Allen will have his hands full with the Broncos star Tuesday afternoon in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Detroit's Ford Field. Purdue lifts the curtain on a Big Ten bowl season that features a league-record 10 participants, and the spotlight in Motown should be on White and Allen.
White leads the nation in both receiving yards per game (137.2) and receptions per game (10.6). He has nine 100-yard receiving performances and has seven games with 12 or more receptions and two others with nine. White also finds the end zone, recording multiple touchdown receptions in seven contests this season. His 16 receiving scores ranks second nationally.
While Allen has faced several productive receivers this season Notre Dame's Michael Floyd, Iowa's Marvin McNutt and Illinois' A.J. Jenkins among them -- White's numbers stand alone in college football this season.
"You can tell he's smarter than most receivers," Allen said. "He's a sixth-year senior, so he knows the ins and outs of defense. And he's a great route-runner. He catches the ball really aggressively, so he attacks the ball with his hands. That's a really good thing for a wide receiver."
Allen expects to cover White on 80 percent of the plays in Tuesday's game. He has studied the Broncos star extensively leading up to the bowl and lists him among the best wideouts he's faced.
"I always look forward to guarding any receiver, especially someone who’s No. 1 in receiving yards," Allen said.
Like most defensive backs, Allen has experienced highs and lows, especially against the elite wideouts. Floyd (12 receptions, 137 yards, 1 TD) and McNutt (9 receptions, 152 yards, 2 TDs) both had big days against Purdue, while the Boilers fared better against Jenkins (8 receptions, 92 yards, 0 TD).
Allen began the season with a surge, recording three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), a forced fumble and a blocked kick during Purdue's first seven games. While Allen has continued to produce -- he finished the season fourth on the team in tackles (72) -- he hasn't made as many impact plays as of late.
Tuesday would be the perfect time to resurface as Allen faces White and talented Broncos quarterback Alex Carder in a game Purdue hopes can serve as a springboard for 2012.
"Big-time players make big plays in big games," he said. "To have a chance to end the season over 50 percent, to go 7-6, that will be real good. It'll give us a big jump. It's going to be a thing for the team to get hungry and want to do more next year."