With some hard work and a few extra PB&J sandwiches, East Central junior Avery White should increasingly become a hot recruiting target for the region’s top college football programs.
He should also grab the attention of college baseball coaches as a young left-hander who throws in the mid-80’s.
As for whether he’s a baseball-first or football-first athlete, White isn’t so sure about that himself.
“That’s kind of a hard one,” he answered. “I like football, but I like baseball, also. I guess we’ll see.”
Judging by what we’ve seen so far, White is a natural on the football field and has the potential to develop into quite the pitcher.
White crashed onto the high school football scene in 2017 with a 202-tackle season, earning a spot on the Sun Herald All-South Mississippi Team and the attention of some of the region’s top college football programs.
At 6-foot-4, 187 pounds, White looks the part as a lanky left-hander on the Hornets’ baseball team, but his thin build makes him look a little out of place on the football field.
Whatever doubts there are about White’s ability quickly evaporate when you see him in action at linebacker.
“When I saw him for the first time as a ninth grader, he stuck out like a sore thumb,” East Central football coach Seth Smith said. “He has that natural ability. He has that explosion and the natural instincts.”
White was a dominant force during his junior year of football, covering wide swaths of ground and putting violent hits on ball carriers. He pulled in three interceptions and led the Class 4A South State champion Hornets in sacks with 11.
It’s White’s speed that sets him apart. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds and features uncommon power for a linebacker who doesn’t yet weigh 190 pounds.
After proving himself to be an excellent high school linebacker, the next goal for White is to show he can pack on the pounds needed to compete on the college level.
He’s already hard at work to increase his weight.
“I’m eating three meals a day — protein every morning and protein every night,” White said. “I eat peanut butter and jelly, ice cream, anything. It’s getting me fat, I guess.”
White says that he’s had more than one college coach tell him that he could have a bright future at receiver, but Smith believes it would be a mistake to move him off defense.
“He’s athletic enough to play anywhere because he can run, but you would be wasting his natural instincts if they moved him from linebacker,” Smith said.
Recruitment heating up
Southern Miss football coach Jay Hopson visited White in Hurley earlier this year and he made an official visit to the Hattiesburg campus last month. He also plans to make an official visit to South Alabama.
He has yet to pick up an FBS offer, but he holds a football offer from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Pearl River CC has offered him in baseball and football.
White plans to attend several football camps this summer, including Southern Miss.
East Central head baseball coach Bo Long believes White could easily develop into a top-notch baseball prospect as well.
“He’s a tough lefty,” Long said. “He has a really good curve ball. He struggled with his command (last week against Pascagoula), but he’s a competitor. That’s what makes him tough. He plays baseball like he plays linebacker. He’s tough. He’s competitive. He’ll get after it.”
White, who is 1-1 with a 2.10 ERA in two starts this season, is confident he can juggle both sports.
“I just kind of give it 100 percent in everything I do. I try to keep it equal,” he said.