Southern Miss

This Coast football star has narrowed his college options to two and one has an edge

East Central senior linebacker Avery White is focused on earning another trip to the Class 4A state title game, but he also has an important decision to make about his future.

White told the Sun Herald on Monday that he is closing in on choosing his college destination, and that he will pick between two schools — South Alabama and Southern Miss.

“I’m leaning a little bit toward Southern Miss as of right now,” he said.

White plans to attend the Marshall-Southern Miss game on Nov. 3 in Hattiesburg. He also plans to make a trip to South Alabama, but has yet to nail down a date.

White and USM tight ends coach Brock Hays “text every day” and head coach Jay Hopson also drops him a text message each week.

“It feels like home,” White said of USM. “(The coaches) all have a great attitude. They’re all energetic. I like the coaching staff there.”

USM again features one of the better defensive units in Conference USA and White likes the group’s style of play.

“They just lay it all out there,” White said.

White, who is also a standout pitcher/outfielder for the ECHS baseball team, checks in at 6-foot-4, 192 pounds, with a 40-yard dash of 4.5 seconds. He’s working hard to get his weight up to 200 pounds with the ultimate goal of reaching 225.

With team-leading totals of 92 tackles and seven sacks, White serves as the centerpiece of a dominant East Central defense that has four shutouts and has allowed seven offensive touchdowns all season.

East Central head coach Seth Smith rates White among the best linebackers he’s seen in person with only former Mississippi State and Long Beach High linebacker Richie Brown topping him.

“(Brown) is probably the best I’ve seen in 15 years of coaching and Avery is the closest to him I’ve seen and that’s because of his speed,” Smith said.

Along with his quickness, White has shown an impressive nose for the football.

“His instincts are a gift,” Smith said. “He sees things really quick and he’s been that way since he was a freshman. He can process the play and go.

“When I saw him as a ninth grader, I thought, ‘I hope this poor ole, frail kid doesn’t get hurt.’ I watched him two or three plays and I realized he has a gift. I knew his size was irrelevant.”

East Central, which has already clinched the Region 8-4A title, is 8-0 headed into Friday night’s regular season finale against rival Vancleave (5-4, 2-2) in Hurley.

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee.