GREEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- La Salle senior running back/safety Jarell White announced Tuesday afternoon he’s verbally committed to the University of Cincinnati -- the first area verbal commitment for new Bearcats coach Luke Fickell.
"Just knowing that the new staff will change a lot of things here," White said. "Just being able to stay home and being able to play in front of my fans and family is probably one of the best things that's ever happened to me. Just knowing that UC is going to have a change from now on I wanted to be a part of that."
White made the announcement in front of family, friends, classmates, teammates and media at La Salle. A few minutes later White took a congratulatory phone call from Fickell.
"He said I was one of his first commits and he is pretty happy about that right now," White said.
White actually informed Fickell of his commitment Monday night and planned to tweet the news. But La Salle decided to host a news conference for the announcement. White said he knew UC was the right fit for him at the end of December. He plans to take an official visit to campus the weekend of Jan. 13.
“A kid staying at home playing some great football and getting a great education,” La Salle coach Jim Hilvert said. “He will make an impact.”
White is one of the first handful of commitments overall for Fickell and his staff. UC also received four mid-year commitments prior to White, including two high school players. Miamisburg offensive lineman Cody Lamb is expected to be on campus next week when classes begin.
UC has 21-25 scholarship slots open as of Tuesday. The Bearcats have area verbal commitments from Princeton defensive lineman Jamal Hines and Middletown kicker Cole Smith.
National Signing Day is Feb. 1.
White also reportedly had offers from Boston College, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Iowa State, Miami University, Purdue, Indiana among others.
A dynamic playmaker on both sides of the ball for the Lancers, White is projected to play safety or nickel back in the Bearcats’ defense and have an impact on special teams.
"I always watched UC - it was just like a connection I felt I could play with," White said. "I felt like I could be one of those guys who could stay and help change the program."
Hilvert said White played a “huge role” for the La Salle defense. He remained healthy throughout the season and used his aggressive, smart play-making ability as a force for the Lancers, who won the Greater Catholic League South division title outright for the first time in program history.
White, who plans to study Sport Management, established a rapport with UC assistant coach Marcus Freeman throughout the recruiting process and it helped give UC the edge, according to Hilvert. Freeman was previously at Purdue and recruited White while there. Freeman is a former Ohio State linebacker.
White, who is 5 feet 10 and 205 pounds, was one of 28 La Salle players this fall to win three consecutive Division II state titles.
White rushed for 799 yards and 11 touchdowns and caught nine passes for 91 yards his senior season.
As a safety, he had 70 tackles (38 solo), a fumble recovery and two interceptions, one for a 55-yard touchdown. He was first-team all-Greater Catholic League South division on offense. White was an Associated Press Division II second-team all-state selection. He competed in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Georgia last week.
La Salle (13-2) defeated Massillon Perry 14-7 in the Division II state final Dec. 1 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, becoming the first team to win three consecutive D-II state titles in Ohio high school football history.
White is one of 28 seniors in La Salle’s 2017 class to win the three consecutive state football titles. White had a game-high 10 tackles, recovered a fumble and contributed 35 yards in the backfield.
“It’s been a blessing,” White said after the game. “My last three years here (at La Salle) have been amazing. I couldn’t be more proud to be here.”
La Salle is just the ninth school in Ohio history to win at least three consecutive state football titles. It is the first locally since Moeller (1975-77).