Antoine White felt he would know when it was time to make his commitment to play college football.
That time was Monday.
White, a defensive tackle entering his senior year at Millville High School, verbally committed to Penn State. He had visited Maryland, Rutgers, Temple, Central Florida and Boston College and canceled planned trips to Michigan State, North Carolina and Duke.
“You know, I always said I would get that feeling when I stepped on the campus, and I got that feeling when I went to Penn State,” said White. “I wasn’t in the process of narrowing. I just knew when it felt right. I trusted in the coaches. They invested in me and I’m investing in them.
“I didn’t want to go to a bunch of different places, waste their time, my time and my parents’ time. I can’t get what Penn State is offering four hours away at some other place 10-12 hours away. They have a great criminal justice program, top five in the country, and (defensive line coach) Larry Johnson, his resume speaks for itself.”
White had 80 tackles, including 14 for loss, and five sacks last year. His recruitment really picked up after the season.
“I had 15 offers,” said White. “I expected at least a handful of offers, but 15 surprised me. It was a humbling experience. I took it slow. I had to be mature about it. Otherwise I would have committed every other day.
“But with the help of my coaches I kept a level head. The process was a little overwhelming, but I stayed grounded.”
Penn State has three more years of sanctions related to the Jerry Sandusky scandal, but White will be at Millville for one of them and could take a redshirt year when he arrives at State College. He’s confident the Nittany Lions will remain a top program through the process.
“I wasn’t going to base a decision on one (bowl) game,” said White, referencing the bowl ban. “You play in a stadium with 109,000 people, that’s a lot of exposure, more than just one game.
“The persistency of the other recruits. …They’re still pulling four- and three-stars, it won’t affect them at all. They’ll continue to be a dominant football program.”
Millville coach Jason Durham said White is the first Thunderbolt to commit to an FBS school since Dale Parris went to Temple in 2006.
“It was a busy recruiting period, it was nice to see all that interest in him and college coaches come through,” said Durham. “He was very focused on the end result, and did a good job searching. Once he got his first offer from Rutgers, we knew he would be a pretty high level recruit over time.
“I think this is a pretty good fit for him. They have a great tradition. They’re within driving distance, and academically they had some of the things he was looking for. He’s going to be a great college player. He has a tremendous work ethic, uses his hands well, he’s coachable and has size and strength.”
When he called to give his verbal commitment, White said the Nittany Lions’ coaches appeared as happy as he was.
“Coach Johnson was on vacation, but he was ecstatic. …He was happy, he didn’t expect this and was glad I was coming,” said White. “(Head coach) Bill O’Brien told everyone he was with. It was a good vibe I got.
“I’m happy this is out of the way. Every interview I do won’t be about recruiting. I want to help (Millville) go for a title, and leave with no regrets.”