Jacob White showed a lot of patience throughout the football recruiting process.
It paid off last week with a scholarship offer from Ball State.
The Hinsdale Central linebacker/running back planned to sign a letter of intent Wednesday on national signing day, a scenario that not many would have expected when the football season began.
At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, White is a classic “tweener,” someone considered too small and too slow for Division I football, but perhaps just right in a Division III setting. His only previous offer was from South Dakota State midway through the football season.
White verbally committed shortly after receiving an offer from Ball State Jan. 22. He took his official visit last weekend to Muncie, Ind., with his father Dan.
“I love the campus. It was really spread out. It had an open feel to it,” White said. “The city is big enough where it’s a perfect balance and the people are spread out.”
Ball State recruited White as a linebacker. South Dakota State and Northern Illinois were interested in White as a fullback, but NIU had yet to make an offer while waiting for a commitment from a tight end, White said. White visited all three schools over the past three weeks.
White led the Red Devils in tackles (69) and tackles-for-loss (six) while rushing for 429 yards and four TDs on 60 carries as a backup quarterback and part-time running back.
White said Ball State graduate assistant coach Aaron Mershman, a 2012 Ball State grad and former player, tipped off his staff when a linebacker committed elsewhere. Mershman recalled seeing White in a summer camp at Cincinnati, White said, and Ball State’s interest began only 2 1/2 weeks ago.
“This is definitely a great opportunity,” White said. “I’m thankful and realize all who have helped me along the way.”
He is Hinsdale Central’s third Division I recruit in the Class of 2014, following offensive lineman Brian Allen (Michigan State) and tight end Ian Bunting (Michigan). Offensive lineman Max Hartzman is expected to sign with Colgate.
Ball State (10-3) lost to Arkansas State 23-20 in the Go Daddy Bowl Jan. 5 in Mobile, Ala. Quarterback Keith Wenning played in the East-West Shrine Game Jan. 18.
The Cardinals beat Virginia 48-27 Oct. 5 and defeated Indiana in Bloomington 41-39 in 2012.
“I think the MAC is a great conference,” White said. “NIU beat Illinois. Ball State beat Indiana. The MAC has three people going to the [NFL] combine in Indianapolis.”
The only Cardinals player this season from Chicago’s west suburbs was freshman offensive lineman Jarrid Lloyd of Benet.
While on recruiting trips, White missed Hinsdale Central’s last five basketball games. The forward reserve, who is averaging 2.1 points and 1.7 rebounds, was set to return to the court last weekend for the first time since Dec. 31.
White also was the starting first baseman last spring for the Red Devils baseball team.
Area football players expected to sign Division I letters of intent Wednesday:
Brian Allen, OL, Hinsdale Central (Michigan State)
Jamal Baggett, DB, Oak Park-River Forest (Akron/Army)
Ian Bunting, TE, Hinsdale Central (Michigan)
Simmie Cobbs, WR, Oak Park-River Forest (Indiana)
Will Colmery, DE, Nazareth (Purdue)
Max Hartzman, OL, Hinsdale Central (Colgate)
Matt Mrazek, WR, Lyons (Lafayette)
Antanas Riskus, DL, Hinsdale South (Air Force)
Ryan Smith, TE, Fenwick (Miami, Ohio)
Robert Spillane, RB, Fenwick (Western Michigan)
Jacob White, LB, Hinsdale Central (Ball State)