LB Drew White felt no need to wait for Notre Dame commitment

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

If any teachers noticed Drew White’s attention fading in school on Monday, they can blame Notre Dame.

Following a junior day visit to Notre Dame on Saturday, which produced a scholarship offer for the 2017 linebacker recruit, White kept thinking about the Irish. He was picturing himself as a Notre Dame football player.

“On Monday, I was sitting through school, and it came to my attention that there’s no other school that’s going to come my way that beats Notre Dame,” White said Wednesday. “I just concluded that’s where I want to go. Why wait? So I decided to commit.”

White called linebackers coach Mike Elston to let him know he was ready to commit. That’s when he learned that Monday night would be a big one for the Irish.

He planned to announce his commitment at 8 p.m. EDT, more than an hour after three-star defensive tackle Kurt Hinish was scheduled to share his pledge to Notre Dame. Later Monday night, four-star linebacker Pete Werner did the same.

“I was excited to hear that. They’re great football players,” White said.

White’s no slouch himself. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker recorded 101 tackles (52 solo), 12.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks and five blocked punts in his junior season at perennial power St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Raiders ended the season with a Class 7A state championship, but they had to do it without White. He missed the final three games of the playoffs because of a right foot injury that did not require surgery.

“It was at a critical point of the season, so it wasn’t easy,” White said. “I didn’t like sitting out in the state (title) game, but I’m glad my team got it done. I tried to lead the best I could from the sidelines by teaching the young linebackers that were playing and help them in the defense.”

That injury has apparently impacted White’s rating from Rivals, which slates him as a two-star recruit, despite claiming offers from Ohio State, Michigan, LSU, Arkansas and Wisconsin, among others. White did not attend either of the camps hosted by Rivals in Florida in February as he continues to make sure his right foot heals properly.

While recovering, White flipped his focus to recruiting. He didn’t need more than one visit to Notre Dame to find his fit.

“All the tradition that it has,” White said of what separated the Irish from other schools he was considering. “Everyone watches Notre Dame. It’s a team that everyone looks for on Saturdays to watch on TV.

"They’re always on NBC. All their coaches, I really felt I had a good connection with all of them. That was a big part. Basically the campus, football and academics, all of them intertwined to create the perfect environment that I could see myself going to.”

White also found a fit in Notre Dame’s defense after watching the Irish practice and talking to Elston and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. And with the commitments of Werner and four-star linebacker David Adams, the Irish may have found a complete set of linebackers with White pegged at Will (weakside), Adams at Mike (middle) and Werner at Sam (strongside).

“VanGorder told me that they never really specify a direct position for a recruit, as things may change and they want to see me where I best fit,” White said. “Right now, they think I’ll fit best at the Will linebacker in their defense. When I get there, they’ll see where I play out.”

St. Thomas Aquinas has strong ties to Notre Dame, with wide receiver Corey Holmes and cornerback Cody Riggs among the list of players who have played at both schools. White doesn't know either player, but he will still impressed by Notre Dame's history in the Sunshine State.

"They have a really good Florida connection with guys from St. Thomas going to Notre Dame and (running backs) coach (Autry) Denson being from Broward County and VanGorder having experience down in Florida with coaching, so it’s great. Before going up, I didn’t really notice how big of a connection south Florida had with Notre Dame. It was great hearing about Corey Holmes from St. Thomas going to Notre Dame and all the other things.”

The days following White’s commitment have been filled with celebration and encouragement. Now he’s ready to get back on the field for spring football with his team.

“Everyone’s been telling me it’s a great decision,” White said. “I’m blessed to have that option, and I’m so excited to be committed to Notre Dame and be part of such a great family.”


Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Florida linebacker Drew White, a 2017 recruit, reported a Notre Dame offer while on campus for junior day March 19. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)
Florida linebacker Drew White, a 2017 recruit, reported a Notre Dame offer while on campus for junior day March 19. (Photo via Twitter)