Edwin White has been on Tennessee’s radar for quite some time. But even though the Vols have known about him for years, they were still surprised when he decided to go ahead and commit on Saturday.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound safety from Mobile, Alabama was on another visit to Tennessee’s campus on Saturday along with several of the Vols’ top targets in the 2021 class, and White felt it was time to go ahead and pledge himself to UT.
White told Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt before taking to Twitter to announce his decision publicly.
“They were pretty shocked and pretty happy,” White told me about Tennessee’s reaction to his commitment. “I don’t think (Pruitt) was expecting it.”
The three-star defensive back/athlete also told UT defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley about his decision to commit, and White said Ansley was “very happy.” The two have a very unique relationship that drives White to be a better player.
“Me and him are competing for interceptions right now to see who can get the most in high school,” White said of his relationship with Ansley. “We have a competitive relationship.”
As of right now, White is racking up the interceptions in high school. As a junior last season at UMS-Wright Prep School, White picked off nine passes, giving him 18 interceptions in his high school career.
But it wasn’t just Tennessee’s defensive coaches who had an impact on him committing to UT.
The Vols’ regional recruiter for Alabama is wide receivers coach Tee Martin. The former Tennessee quarterback is from Mobile himself, and that hometown connection helped him and White really hit it off.
“He’s from the Mobile area, and we communicate very well,” White said of Martin. “We have a lot of things in common.”
Back when Jeremy Pruitt was first hired as Tennessee’s head coach, he immediately sent out scholarship offers to prospects in the 2019 and 2020 classes to try and bring his relationships from Alabama over to his new job. One of the first recruits in the 2021 class who picked up an offer from UT after Pruitt was hired was White. Pruitt extended a scholarship offer to him back on December 13, 2017.
That offer was the first one of White’s recruitment, and that’s a big reason why the Alabama athlete chose the Vols.
“They’ve always been number one because they’ve been there from the start,” White stated.
Though White plays in all three phases of the game for UMS-Wright Prep, Tennessee plans on using him as a defensive back. White says UT’s coaches told him they envision him as a free safety and could see him playing some nickel corner as well.
White says he’s a “passionate leader and motivator” for his teammates, and the reason he’s so good at picking off passes is because he has a background as an offensive player. White plays on offense some still, but he used to play more there, and that gave him “natural hands” to intercept passes easier.
In 43 games in high school, White has intercepted 18 passes, has broken up 15 more, and has totaled 234 tackles. He’s scored nine offensive touchdowns, three defensive touchdowns, and four special teams touchdowns, giving him a total of 16 scores in his three years of high school.
That kind of do-it-all stat line seems like it would belong with an elite prospect, but White is rated as a middling three-star currently. The Alabama native is the No. 606 overall recruit and No. 42 safety in the 2021 cycle per the 247Sports Composite rankings.
But White doesn’t care about rankings. He knows what kind of player he is, and he has high goals for himself heading into his senior season this fall.
“I really don’t pay attention to that,” White said of his recruiting rankings. “Football is football once you get in college. As far as all that stuff goes, it doesn’t matter. But I’m definitely trying to set a record next year with 12 interceptions.”
White will undoubtedly pick off several passes again in 2020, and even if he doesn’t reach his goal of a record-setting 12 interceptions as a senior, Tennessee is still getting a defensive back with a knack for making big plays.