Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Signing day: Rick Neuheisel on Torian White
By Peter Yoon
The flip-flopping commitment of offensive lineman Torian White (Lakewood) was among the more bizarre stories of signing day and UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, who eventually landed the 6-foot-6, 280-pounder, discussed the last 24 hours during his signing day news conference Wednesday.
White, who had been a long-time verbal commitment to UCLA, went on television Wednesday, picked a USC hat and announced he would become a Trojan. He later changed his mind and signed a national letter of intent with the Bruins.
“Last night for the first time I wasn’t able to talk to him,” Neuheisel said. “The phone wasn’t answering and so I got nervous. During the contact period, every day I talked to him. Sometimes more than once. So to not be able to talk to him, I got concerned.”
Neuheisel said he thought the relationship was strong enough that there would be nothing to worry about, but when he watched White pick up a USC hat during his televised announcement, Neuheisel’s stomach dropped.
“Obviously when he picked up the other hat I was depressed,” Neuheisel said. “That wasn’t the hat I wanted him to choose.”
Later, Neuheisel received a call from White, who told Neuheisel he still wasn’t settled. Then he received a signed letter of intent and all was well.
“I’m thrilled he felt that way and I’m thrilled that we built enough of a relationship, not only between he and I, but also between the school and his family, that this felt right,” Neuheisel said.