Jets QB Mike White was a baseball star before turning to football

Jets QB Mike White was a baseball star before turning to football

Richie Palmer knew Mike White’s future was on the football field as soon as he saw him throw the ball.

Palmer first trained White when he was 13 years old, but not on the grid. Palmer was White’s baseball coach in high school and during the summer ball with Elite Squad, a travel program in Miami. He thought White had the speed, intelligence and command needed to make it a major league pitcher. But Palmer changed his mind after White’s senior season at NSU University School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

White led the Suns’ football program to the school’s first state championship in its seven-year history with a 282-yard, two-touchdown performance that season. On the same day, White committed to playing football at the University of South Florida.

“He was a good pitcher at our level,” Palmer told the Jets Wire, “but when I saw him throw a football, the first thing I thought was, ‘Man, he can be a better quarterback than he is a pitcher.’

It seems that White made the right choice. After being selected by the Cowboys in the fifth round of the 2018 draft and being cut by the Jets four times, White starts for Gang Green in week 8 against the Bengals. He filled up for an injured Zach Wilson early in the Jets’ loss to the Patriots in Week 7 and threw for 202 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

“I’m starting an NFL game,” White said so Thursday. “So it’s pretty cool.”

In an alternate universe, White may have chosen baseball over football.

The 6-foot-4 right-hander was recruited by colleges and was scouted by major league clubs before the senior season after finishing with a record of 9-2 and an ERA of 0.43 in 2011. White was the No. 1 pitcher in a three. -man rotation for the Suns under Rich Hofman during the second and junior seasons. He had a three-pitch mix, highlighted by a fastball that cracked 90 miles per hour.

“He was a stud for us,” Hofman told the Jets Wire. «HIf he concentrated on baseball, he would definitely be a great college player because of his size and pitching repertoire. “

Palmer noted that White always understood situations and when to throw the right paths, instead of whipping hotter past hits. Palmer believes that mentality can help White read defense at the NFL level.

“He’s always had a good feeling for pitching. He was not one of those guys who was all over the place and just threw hard. He knew how to get out, Palmer said. “There is no doubt in my mind that he would have played professional baseball.”

Eddie Tisdale, assistant under Hofman for two years before taking over as head coach for White’s senior season, is not surprised by White’s football progression. He, like Palmer, observed a very intelligent pitcher and a natural leader.

“He was very interested in studying the art of being a pitcher,” Tisdale told the Jets Wire. “He understood and could handle things at an advanced level.”

College and MLB scouts were interested in White when he was 17, but wanted to see how his speed developed over the past year before throwing offers at him. Palmer noted that White’s speed did not take the leap many scouts wanted that summer because he divided his time between baseball games and 7-on-7 football practice.

“He just wasn’t in pitching form,” Palmer said. “He was still very efficient and still won many games for us, but his speed was not where he wanted it.”

After White won a state title, Division I football scholarships began to roll in. White and his father were not sure which way to go, but Palmer advised White to stick to football because scholarships covered 100 percent of the tuition, while baseball offers usually covered up to 60 percent.

White actually tried to play baseball at USF. He attended training in 2014, but he and his father, Mike Sr., decided to let USF football coach Will Taggart make the final decision.

“We trust Coach Taggart and what he does with our son,” said White’s father Tampa Bay Times in 2014. “Then at the end of the spring, if coach Taggart says, ‘Look, I feel comfortable, Michael can play baseball,’ then we’ll play baseball.”

USF baseball coach Lelo Prado thought White would get a chance to take the mound as well, but it never happened.

“I thought he was going to be a hell of a pitcher,” Prado told the Jets Wire in an email. “Great arm!”

White continued to throw for 2722 yards, 11 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 17 games at USF from 2013-2014 before moving to Western Kentucky in 2015. He flourished in Western Kentucky and finished with 8540 yards, 65 5 touchdowns and just 2 5 interceptions. games from 2016-2017.

Now White will line up at the center of the Jets for the biggest moment of his athletic career. It’s a journey that has taken many turns across two sports, a fact White recently reflected on along with the Met’s second baseman and Florida friend Luis Guillorme.

“We played together for a long time, and we talked the other day. It’s funny how I grew up, I was just baseball and saw somewhere in high school, our paths – I went football and everyone else kept [with] baseball, “said White.

“There have been many ups and downs,” he added, “but personally I am proud of how I coped with it and persevered and continued to work on the tail and get better and put myself in this situation.”

How long “this situation” – White’s period as New York starts – lasts remains to be seen. But his old baseball coaches will look at their previous aces on Sunday.

“I’m probably the farthest away from a Jets fan,” said Tisdale, who lives in South Carolina. “But we’ll definitely be pulling for the Jets.”

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