By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PUNTA GORDA — Jacob White stole the spotlight at Charlotte High School during Wednesday’s National Signing Day ceremony.
White, who had been verbally committed to Florida Atlantic University since August, had a last-second change of heart.
“A minute before I came in here I was on the phone with both coaches and I just felt like going to FIU was best for me,” White said. “FAU has a great staff and a great program… (I was committed) to the old coaching staff. The new coaching staff is great as well, but you have to make decisions and that’s what I chose.”
Instead of FAU, White is headed to Florida International University, where he’ll join Tarpon teammates D’Vonte and G’Vonte Price, who also signed their national letters of intent Wednesday morning.
There were no surprises with the Price’s, who had been planning to play for FIU. The twins were a package deal, according to G’Vonte.
“It was important so my mom didn’t have to travel to different games,” G’Vonte said. “She can go to one game and watch us both shine.”
G’Vonte was one of the Tarpon’s top defenders in 2016. He did a little bit of everything, with 52 tackles, six tackles for a loss, six sacks and forced and recovered a fumble. He also had five pass deflections and an interception.
For D’Vonte, he was one of the most dynamic players in the area on offense, even though he was injured most of the year. He remained on the area leaderboard in both rushing and receiving all season, despite only playing in four games during the regular season.
D’Vonte returned for the playoffs, and could not have had a bigger impact for the Tarpons, scoring all four touchdowns in the regional final win against Fort Myers. He ended the season with 526 rushing yards with six touchdowns and 379 receiving yards with four more scores.
“They’ve been there since the beginning and always showing us some love,” D’Vonte said. “I never thought this day would come to be honest. It’s crazy. It’s here now, and we have to show up.”
White was essentially a three-way player for the Tarpons, making an impact in every phase of the game. He had a punt and kick return for a touchdown. He caught 19 passes for 399 yards and two touchdowns. And on defense, he had 35 tackles with a pair of interceptions.
This is the first time in coach Binky Waldrop’s two-plus decades of being a Charlotte coach where he’s sent five players off to Division-I teams. In addition to the three players who signed on Wednesday, Maleek Williams and Dee Hicks graduated early to get a head start on college.
“We have great players. No teams is this successful without having some good players,” Waldrop said. “We’re fortunate to have them and they’re great kids. We’re fortunate to have them. They do well in school. To have two graduated already and in college, that speaks volumes right there.”
Williams is up at the University of Arkansas. The running back was The Sun’s 2016 football player of the year after scoring 24 touchdowns with 1,295 yards rushing yards.
Hicks is already enrolled at Appalachian State in North Carolina. Hicks was the team’s quarterback this year, but is listed as a defensive back at App State.
The five of them are part of one of the most successful senior classes in Charlotte’s history, winning multiple district championships, a regional title and a state semifinal appearance this year.