millville football

Millville 53 Antoine White tackles Absegami 1 Tyler Bing during the 1st quarter. Friday October 14 2011 Absegami at Millville High School Football. (The Press of Atlantic City / Ben Fogletto)

Ben Fogletto

Antoine White wanted more from a college than state-of-the-art facilities and a huge football stadium.

Just as important to White were the coaches he would be around and what a degree from the college would mean 20 to 30 years from now.

White, who will be a senior at Millville High School in the fall, verbally committed to Penn State University on Monday after visiting the school this past weekend with mother Stacey and father Corey. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound White is one of New Jersey’s top defensive linemen.

“We got to see things (at Penn State) outside of the basics, which normal people see, like the facilities and uniform,” White said. “We got to see what type of genuine people are at Penn State.”

White spoke with Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien and defensive line coach Larry Johnson.

“I got to talk very very privately with Coach O’Brien and Coach Johnson,” White said. “I didn’t feel like they were giving me a sales pitch. They were genuine about what they were saying.”

White was one of the region’s most heavily recruited players. Boston College, Rutgers, Maryland and Syracuse were among the schools that offered him a scholarship.

“This is amazing,” White said about getting to go to college for free because of football. “I’m very happy for my mom. I always wanted to make sure that she didn’t have to pay for college. A lot of people have money, but college money is hard to find.”

White said his parents and Millville coaches made sure he handled the recruiting process correctly. He joked that if it weren’t for them he would have committed to a different school every weekend.

“Every time a new offer comes in, it’s an amazing feeling,” White said. “It’s like Christmas morning every time.”

White, 17, made 80 tackles — 14 for losses— for Millville last fall. He also contributed five sacks.

“Antoine is explosive,” Millville football coach Jason Durham said. “He’s an intelligent football player. He presents himself well to college coaches. He’s mature for his age. Those are the things college coaches like.”

White said he wasn’t that concerned with the NCAA sanctions that Penn State must deal with because of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Penn State cannot play in a bowl game until 2016.

“I talked it over with my parents and I can’t base a college decision on one game,” White said. “Penn State plays in one of the biggest stadiums in the country, so exposure isn’t an issue.”

Penn State coaches cannot comment on White until he signs a national letter of intent to make his commitment official. That letter cannot be signed until the first Wednesday in February, under NCAA regulations.

With his college decision made, White can now focus fully on his senior season. Millville finished 6-4 last season. The Thunderbolts will return several other standouts, including running back Rob Ennis and linebacker Ed Shockley. Millville should again be a Cape-Atlantic League American Conference contender.

“I think Antoine has wanted to have an opportunity to enjoy his senior year with his teammates,” Durham said. “The recruiting process is nice for players, but it’s also overwhelming. Antoine is such a good guy (that) he didn’t want to hurt anybody or do anything the wrong way. I think he’s probably relieved to have the process over.”

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I've worked at newspapers since 1985. Mostly in N.J., but with an eight-year pit stop in N.C. I've been at The Press since 1997.