Donnie White Jr. standing out

DE makes coaches notice for his play -- and wardrobe choices -- on the field

Originally Published: June 4, 2012
By Damon Sayles | ESPN RecruitingNation

CREVE COEUR, Mo. -- Donnie White Jr. stood there wearing his gold Missouri camp jersey. His number was 188.

Most of the participants at the St. Louis Black & Gold Camp, hosted by the Missouri staff, were either in white or black shirts, depending on their classification. The gold shirts were given to players who either have committed to Missouri or are on the Tigers' radar.

The gold jersey was supposed to be the most noticeable thing in White's football attire on Sunday. Leave it to the St. Louis De Smet High School defensive end to spice up the ensemble.

[+] EnlargeDonnie White Jr.
Damon SaylesDonnie White Jr.'s pink shoes and socks made him stand out but his play also earned him praise.
Pink cleats. Pink socks. Pink gloves. A pink towel. In addition to the gold shirt.

"The best thing about the camp, it's in my back yard," White said, as the camp took place on the De Smet football field. "That's going to bring some attention to me, and I feel like I have to stand out."

For White, the pink gear served two purposes. First, it's a marketing tool. He knew his attire would catch the attention of players and, most importantly, Missouri coaches in attendance. He knew all eyes would be on him when he lined up for drills. White forced himself into a sink-or-swim proposition.

On Sunday, he swam.

There's a reason why the 6-foot-3, 215-pound defensive end has offers from Arkansas, New Mexico, Boston College, Western Kentucky, Wyoming and Miami (Ohio). White brings explosiveness off the line and uses his speed -- he's run a high 4.6-second 40-yard dash -- to beat bigger offensive lineman in one-on-one situations. He's a player who takes pride in perfecting his craft.

He's also a player who's hungry to get even better, a characteristic that De Smet coach Pat Mahoney admires.

"He's exactly what you see on film," Mahoney said. "The No. 1 thing is he gets off the ball and is absolutely tenacious to the ball. His motor doesn't stop, and he claws and fights. He's able to turn the corner real well.

"A lot of coaches are looking at him to potentially stand up and play a 3-4 backer. He's been working hard on increasing his flexibility, so that has potential, but what he does best is get at the quarterback."

White performed well at both the Missouri camp Sunday and the Nike Football Training Camp in Memphis on Friday. Much like Sunday, he had to answer questions about his gear on Friday. And much like Sunday, few had comments once the day concluded.

While marketing is a reason for his pink attire, White also wears it to honor his family. White's father, Donnie Sr., said the incoming senior lost his mother, Shirdell, 13 years ago to liver cancer. He now is watching his aunt, Katedell, battle breast cancer.

White was active in spearheading the team during De Smet's breast cancer awareness week last season. The entire team wore pink with their uniforms. White wouldn't let anyone go without wearing pink.

"He's a go-getter. On and off the field, that's the person you get," White Sr. said. "He's been determined like that since he was 3 or 4. He gets it from his mom."

That determination often times translates into confidence and maturity. White's not ashamed to walk up to coaches and introduce himself. He shook hands with most of the Missouri coaches -- including head coach Gary Pinkel -- and looked them right in the eyes during those conversations.

White's hoping his ability to be personable will be beneficial in a few days. He's going to be a part of a 200-person group to travel on a five-school campus tour. White will visit Cincinnati, Purdue, Illinois, Miami (Ohio) and Vanderbilt in a week's span. In those days, he has plans on connecting with members of the coaching staff in each football program.

"I'm hoping it will open the doors for me a little bit," White said. "I'll get to travel, and I'll be looking to speak to some coaches while I'm there. That's the thing for me. I want to speak with coaches and let them know who I am if they don't know me."

Arkansas was White's first offer, as he picked it up during a junior day February. He is considering making a college decision after the 2012 season, which will allow him to take all five official visits and truly study all angles of his recruiting process.

Fitting for a player Mahoney calls a student of the game.

"I know the coaches are waiting, but I want to evaluate them just as they're evaluating me," White said. "I want to take my officials and enjoy the whole process."

As for wearing pink, consider it a done deal for the next camp he attends. Especially if it continues to get him notice.

"Basically, when you go to camps, you have to stand out somehow," he said. "But doing that, you have to make sure you live up to it. You already bring attention to yourself, so you don't have a choice but to do good.

"In Memphis, they were asking, 'What's up with the all the pink?' I had to explain that I'm from St. Louis, and we like to show off. I mean, I'm from the Show-Me State, right? And when it was over, I showed what I can do."