ST. PETERSBURG — Despite a four-star ranking as a recruit, Sean White felt he still had something to prove.
The Fort Lauderdale University School quarterback, who has committed to Auburn, was hoping to garner more respect with his performance at the Under Armour All-America Game.
White delivered, finishing 10 of 12 for 156 yards and two touchdowns to lead Team Highlight to a 31-21 victory.
“I came in here with a chip on my shoulder,” said White, who was named MVP for his team. “I thought I was a little underrated coming in here and had something to prove.”
White, rated the 16th best quarterback in the 2014 class by ESPN, took over as University School’s starter this past season from Mike White (no relation), who is now at USF. Sean threw for 2,229 yards and 29 touchdowns and led the Suns to the Class 4A state quarterfinals, where they lost to eventual state champion Booker T. Washington.
This week, White continued to shine. On Tuesday, he won the quarterback skills competition.
In Thursday’s game, White started strong, throwing a 23-yard touchdown pass to LSU commit Jacory Washington in the first quarter to give Team Highlight a 7-0 lead. In the fourth quarter, White threw his second touchdown pass, a 36-yarder to another LSU commit, Leonard Fournette, to make it 31-14.
“I had a great week,” White said. “Just having the receivers I had out here made it a whole lot easier.”
Jeff Jones, a Minnesota recruit who had 37 yards rushing, 35 receiving and scored twice, was named MVP for Team Nitro.
The grand finale: During the game, seven players announced their college commitments, none bigger than St. Augustine (La.) running back Fournette, rated the No. 1 prospect in the nation by ESPN.
Fournette was the last to declare where he was going to school. He picked LSU over Alabama and Texas.
“I was focused more on my decision than the game,” said Fournette, who finished with 44 yards rushing and 46 receiving and a touchdown. “I actually made up my mind (Wednesday). Overall, it was just a level of comfort that I felt good about LSU.”
Fournette’s decision helped ease the sting of LSU losing three prospects who chose other schools during the game. They were: Speedy Noil (Texas A&M), Gerald Willis III (Florida) and Tony Brown (Alabama).
Twice bitten: Two years ago, defensive back Landon Collins announced he would attend Alabama during the Under Armour game. His mother, April Gilbert, an LSU fan, was not pleased with the decision.
On Thursday, Collins’ brother, Willis III, made his college choice. And it wasn’t the Tigers.
The defensive tackle picked Florida.
“I just felt like that was where I fit in the best, Willis III said of the Gators. “They’re a pass rushing team that plays the 4-3 and that suits me.”
Gilbert was more restrained when Willis III made his decision.
“It is what is, Florida Gators …LSU’s still No. 1.”
Did you know? Texas A&M commit Myles Garrett had six tackles, including an Under Armour-record four for loss.
Recruiting at his own pace: East Lake junior wide receiver George Campbell hasn’t exactly been in hiding since he decommitted from Michigan the week before Christmas, but could you blame him?
“It was a crazy thing,’’ Campbell said Thursday afternoon, after he competed at the underclassmen combine at Tropicana Field.
“There were a lot of people blowing me up (on Twitter). Not just on Twitter, but on my phone, too, so I had to stay off it for a couple of days.”
The 6-3, 183-pounder and top Tampa Bay prospect in the 2015 class kicked off the new year with a solid performance Thursday morning; he was also a standout at last year’s combine.
He didn’t catch everything like last year, but he showed the same speed and athleticism that has dozens of colleges courting him and makes him one of the area’s most promising picks for next year’s Under Armour All-America Game.
Campbell said he plans to re-boot his recruitment once he gets back to school. Michigan remains a possibility, but many think Florida, Florida State and Clemson are the schools to beat.
Campbell isn’t sure where he’ll be after high school, but he knows he wants the process of getting there to slow down.
“Once we start back at school, we’ll probably start talking to coaches,’’ Campbell said. “We’re just trying to slow it down and bring it back to my pace. Pretty much want to keep it at the pace I want it at.”
Spartan impresses: Campbell was one of 13 local athletes competing in Thursday morning’s combine, from unknown Northside Christian running back Joshua Snead — at the suggestion of godbrother Ryan Green, the former St. Petersburg Catholic and current FSU running back — to multiple-offer standouts like Deon Cain (Tampa Bay Tech) and Auden Tate (Wharton), who looked just as big out of pads as they do in them.
But the most impressive local might have been Lakewood junior Ryan Davis.
The Spartan quarterback, coming off a strong finish to his fall season, competed at wide receiver and was exceptional.
The 5-9 1/2, 154-pound future college slot receiver ran crisp routes and caught every ball he got his hands on. Every. Ball.
“I don’t remember dropping one,’’ he said.
It was obvious the quarterbacks there noticed. In 7-on-7 drills, Davis got more than his fair share of reps.