The last week has been a whirlwind for Colby White, and really, the last 18 months would qualify, too.
The right-hander only had two junior college offers as a senior at West Marion. Admittedly, he was a little undersized at 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, but he said his fastball still topped out at 91 mph.
Without any serious interest from four-year programs, White signed with Pearl River Community College out of high school. The move paid off as the rising sophomore committed Tuesday to Mississippi State over a number of programs including Ole Miss, Southern Miss, South Alabama and Southeastern Louisiana.
“I just felt like MSU was the best place for me. It felt like my home,” White said Wednesday. “I really liked the coaches at Mississippi State. No disrespect to the coaches at the other schools I visited, but I felt the whole program was the best fit for me.
“I just felt more of a connection with the coaches. I felt like we’re on the same page.”
After posting a 6-3 mark with a 2.43 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings as a freshman last year, White saw interest begin to pick up. One professional team even called during the last MLB Draft to talk numbers, but they couldn’t offer enough to deter White from his dream of pitching in the SEC. His recruiting stock exploded last Friday, however, when he stood out at a junior college showcase at Hinds C.C. In front of a bleacher full of scouts and recruiters, the 6-foot, 190-pound White topped out at 94 and, in his opinion, solidified his spot as a legitimate recruit.
Colleges must have agreed, because by Sunday he was in Oxford visiting Ole Miss. He took a trip to Starkville on Tuesday, cementing what he had already thought about the Bulldogs. White loved the energy of head coach Andy Cannizaro; pitching coach Gary Henderson was an X-factor.
“He’s just so knowledgeable,” White said. “He has a plan and knows how he’s going to get everyone better.
“It’s kind of hard to pass up on that.”
White started to drive home after his visit to Starkville but had to pull over.
“I got in the car, drove about an hour and knew where I wanted to go so I called and told them,” White said. “That’s a pretty big decision, but I knew pretty quick.”
‘I got to thinking’
Last weekend wasn’t the first time White thought about playing at Mississippi State. During last year’s playoff series with Itawamba C.C., PRCC stopped in Starkville to practice before finishing the drive north. White vividly remembers walking into the Palmeiro Center, which is MSU’s indoor baseball facility.
“I thought if I can ever get a chance to play here, I’m going to play here,” he said.
After watching MSU rally to knock off Southern Miss in last year’s Hattiesburg Regional, White really got to thinking about the Bulldogs.
“Even though they had used all their pitchers they still found a way to win regardless of who was on the mound. I got to thinking about it and I thought that takes some pretty good coaching considering the circumstances,” he said. “I really got to thinking about that and seeing what Coach Henderson was doing with them.”
Perhaps the cherry on the sundae was when White saw updated renderings of Mississippi State’s Dudy Noble Field renovations.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “People grow up their whole lives wanting to play somewhere like that.”
White topped out at 94 last week at the showcase event, but he regularly hit 95 as a freshman. He uses a four-seam fastball and mixes in a change-up, splitter and a newly developed slider, dumping a curveball he utilized in high school.
“Mississippi State is getting a special competitor with a special arm,” PRCC coach Michael Avalon said. “I’ve coached a lot of pitchers and by far he has the best fastball I’ve coached.”
“It’s a different fastball. It’s electric.”
White said MSU never promised him any kind of role on the 2019 team.
“They just said they expect me to come in and pitch,” he said. “Obviously every spot is earned.
“I look forward to the challenge.”
While the whole recruiting process was stressful, White can laugh when he thinks back to how it all started at West Marion High, with only PRCC and Southwest offers in hand.
“It’s kind of crazy how things change,” he said.
Colby White stats
2017 Pearl River C.C.
2015 West Marion
2014 West Marion