Sunday, January 21, 2018
Colleges

For USF QB Mike White, baseball can wait

TAMPA

Preseason baseball drills began in earnest this past Friday at USF, with the most baffling curve of the day being delivered via Twitter.

Initially, the team's official feed indicated QB Mike White once a big-league prospect — would be part of the baseball team, and "report to football first during spring ball."

Later, a USF spokesman rescinded a bit, saying while White attended Friday's baseball practice, any potential role with the team wouldn't be determined until after spring football. Later Friday, White's dad tweeted that his son wouldn't play baseball this season.

Four days later, clarity has risen from the confusion. On Tuesday morning, Mike White Sr. told the Times his son's 2014 baseball status will be re-evaluated at the end of spring football, with the final decision left up to football coach Willie Taggart.

"We trust Coach Taggart and what he's doing with our son," White's father said. "So at the end of spring, if Coach Taggart says, 'Look, I feel comfortable, Michael can go participate in baseball,' then we'll go play baseball."

Two winters ago, White seemed destined for a mound instead of a huddle at the next level. A rangy right-hander, he was embarking on a sparkling junior year at Fort Lauderdale University (9-2, 0.43 ERA), and was pitching for an elite South Florida travel team.

The following spring, his fastball was touching 90 mph, and big-league clubs were inquiring about his draft-ability. By then, however, he had signed with USF following his first season as a starting quarterback, when he led University to the Class 3A title.

To this day, Mike White Sr. said his son has started fewer than 20 football games. He dabbled with the game in middle school, sat out his freshman year, then backed up two different college prospects as a sophomore and a junior.

When his opportunity arrived in 2012, White threw for 2,200 yards, 22 TDs and two interceptions in 13 games — all victories. By then, he was nearly 6 feet 5.

"Honestly, if you came to me three years ago and told me he was going to play quarterback in Division I, I would've said 'nope'," the elder White said.

Hence the reason the family's deferring to Taggart. For all his promise, White the QB remains in the developmental stage, and Taggart has said every position is open to competition this spring.

For now, the only velocity that matters is on curl routes, not cutters.

"At the end of the day, it's Taggart's decision and we stand behind Taggart," White Sr. said. "I entrusted him with my son, that's why I sent him to school there."

CONFERENCE CROWN IN VIEW? Barring any 11th-hour flips or reneging, Taggart could clinch his inaugural American Athletic Conference crown next week.

USF's 26-member signing class, bolstered Sunday by Nature Coast DE Rohan Blackwood's oral commitment, is the American's top-ranked group according to Rivals.com and 247Sports.

With seven days remaining until national signing day, the Bulls likely will land a half-dozen more. Blackwood is the eighth Class of 2014 bay area recruit (including Sarasota and Manatee counties) to say he'll attend USF.

BULL BITS: Sophomore G Courtney Williams, who totaled 44 points and shot 20-for-40 in the past two women's games, made the American's weekly honor roll Monday. … The men's tennis team opened its dual-match season Friday with a 6-1 rout of FAU. The 59th-ranked women split a pair of weekend matches in Miami, falling to LSU and defeating Ohio State. … Alonso standout Franklin Mosely placed fourth in the men's 400 meters (49.53 seconds) at last weekend's eight-team Jack Johnson Classic at the University of Minnesota.

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