It’s roughly a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Nashville, Tennessee to Little Rock, Arkansas, and as Walker White rode with his family following a strong showing at the Elite 11 Regional in Nashville, he had a lot of time to think.
Even as one of the younger recruits in attendance, a year behind those who are currently being heavily recruited a class above, White stood out amongst a loaded crop of the top high school quarterbacks in the region — and with just four quarterbacks grading out higher (three of the four ranked as four-star 2023 signal-callers), White felt pretty pleased as he rode back home to Little Rock.
“It was definitely exciting because it’s always been kind of a goal for me to go to the Elite 11, and then next year, I’ll hopefully make the finals,” White told Pittsburgh Sports Now.
One of the four quarterbacks above White, just one spot above actually, was Pitt four-star commit Kenny Minchey, and while White didn’t speak with Minchey during the event, he definitely noticed him.
— Elite11 (@Elite11) May 16, 2022
Minchey is headed to Pitt ahead of the 2023-24 college season, and White is a quarterback recruit that Pitt has made a priority to recruit as a potential addition the following season. After officially offering White in late Apri, the relationship has begun to blossom on both sides.
White (a 6-foot-3, 215-pound quarterback from Little Rock Christian Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas) holds offers from Arkansas, Central Arkansas, Louisville, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Pitt, Syracuse, Tulsa, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia, but Pitt is targeting him heavily already.
Jonathan DiBiaso has been the leading force for Pitt thus far, first reaching to White’s head coach at Life Christian, and it’s been a strong relationship that’s formed since then. When DiBiaso and White were first able to connect on a phone call, the pair spoke for 20 minutes — touching upon life, family and football — and DiBiaso told him to call back the following day.
“(DiBiaso) checked my transcripts, I sent him a few videos of me throwing and after that, I guess for him, the boxes were checked,” White said. “He offered me, and since then it’s been really cool just getting to know him. He’s a real chill, real cool dude.
“I mean, the second time calling him, I wasn’t really expecting it, but it was in the back of my head — the offer,” White said. “But whenever he told me, I was like, ‘Golly,’ because Kenny Pickett, that’s one heckuva dude to look up to and to follow up. Just getting that offer was honestly real special, for sure.”
White is very familiar with Pickett’s ascension to the peak of college football in 2021, proclaiming Pitt’s former starting quarterback as a ‘dawg,’ and he just felt honored that a school like Pitt felt he was able to continue the legacy. With Pickett off to the Pittsburgh Steelers, White said he created a huge name for Pitt, and in addition to being a good school, he’s excited for the opportunity at Pitt.
While White hasn’t yet had the opportunity to speak with Frank Cignetti Jr. yet, something that’s actually in the works this week, he has been able to speak with DiBiaso about exactly the kind of offense that Pitt runs — and about Cignetti’s own background in grooming big-time NFL quarterbacks ahead of their first conversation. And with a pro-style offense at Pitt, that’s a factor that White values.
With a goal to eventually make it to the NFL, White feels like an NFL style offense — run by a former NFL coach — could help him make that dream become a reality. Especially after seeing how it helped Pickett over the past few seasons.
And while White is only a rising high school sophomore, he’s already impressed at Little Rock Christian. As a sophomore, he threw for 2,010 yards and 23 touchdowns (to just 11 interceptions) on 129-of-238 passing attempts. He also added 487 yards and five touchdowns on 92 additional rush attempts.
247Sports rates White as the 133rd-ranked recruit in the class (11th-ranked quarterback and the top-ranked recruit from Arkansas) while Rivals rates him as the 147th-ranked recruit in the class (10th-ranked pro-style quarterback).
White has made visits to Mississippi State, TCU, Florida State and Virginia, and while a visit to Pittsburgh would be a very, very long trip, if he’s able to make the time, he’d love to make it up to Pitt. It’s something that’s still being worked out at this point.
However, even without a visit up to campus, Pitt has done enough in a short amount of time to catch White’s eye.
“(DiBiaso) communicates pretty well, so I’ve just kind of created a real good relationship with him, so I mean, yeah, they’ve definitely caught my eye,” White said. “I think it’s way too early say my Top 5, they’re just now starting to roll in, so I can’t say anything on that. But they definitely have caught my eye.
“100% strong first impression.”
With a visit lined up for Ole Miss this week, and five or six camp invites to schools down south, White will be busy this summer. And Pitt will continue to target the 2024 quarterback as a key recruit.