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Real signature, ‘surreal’ day for Union Grove's White

Jeff Hurndon Photography
As his mother, Zina, watches proudly, Union Grove’s D.J. White signs with Georgia Tech. It came nearly two months after White rescinded a commitment he made to South Florida because he deemed its program “unstable.”

Jeff Hurndon Photography As his mother, Zina, watches proudly, Union Grove’s D.J. White signs with Georgia Tech. It came nearly two months after White rescinded a commitment he made to South Florida because he deemed its program “unstable.”

D.J. White had imagined National Signing Day many times. The real thing Wednesday was infinitely better. The Union Grove star signed a letter-of-intent with Georgia Tech and breathed a sigh of relief.

“Man, it felt like a huge weight off my shoulders,” he said. “Everything’s officially over and I don’t have to worry about any more calls.”

White was highly sought by college scouts because of his athletic versatility. He did a little of everything for Union Grove during his senior season — rushed for 252 yards and four touchdowns, caught 15 balls for 354 yards and three touchdowns, returned 14 kicks for 272 yards and made 28 tackles on defense, with one interception and four passes broken up.

He’s concentrating for now on being the best cornerback he can be, believing that the Tech depth chart gives him a chance to compete for early playing time at that position, and still is pinching himself that this day finally arrived.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” White said. “I guess surreal would be the word. I’ve been seeing other guys do this and waiting for my turn and now it’s like a dream come true.”

The dream underwent a slight color change — from the green and gold of South Florida to Tech’s old gold and white — back in December. He withdrew his non-binding commitment to South Florida and pledged himself to the Yellow Jackets, with nary a regret about his decision.

“None at all,” White said.

His high school coach, Paul Burgdorf, expressed White delight.

“I think it speaks volumes for the amount of work D.J. put in on the field and off the field, in the classroom and the weight room,” Burgdorf said. “I hate losing him. I wish we had several more years together.”

Burgdorf confessed that he was a little concerned when White changed his commitment, but appreciated the mature way White handled it.

“I don’t like when guys make a commitment and then switch,” Burgdorf said. “But it’s each young man’s future. For whatever reason, he changed. I supported him when he wanted to go to South Florida and I still support him even though he changed.”

South Florida was White’s choice until he deemed the program “unstable.” Georgia Tech was the right place at the right time for White to land.

“At the time I de-committed, I made it clear and at that point (South Florida coaches) didn’t try calling me,” White said. “It was tough cutting that loose.”

Still, there was a hurdle even more stable Georgia Tech had to overcome.

“I think early in the recruiting process there was a bit of a misunderstanding that I won’t go into detail about,” White said. “But they came by my house and cleared it up and (Georgia Tech) seemed to be the place I wanted to be.”

There was much to sell White on Georgia Tech. “Past teammates, former teammates, it’s close to home and it was my favorite school growing up,” he said.

White follows the Union Grove-to-Georgia Tech footsteps of guys like defensive end Anthony Williams and linebackers Steven Sylvester and Kyle Jackson. Even though he’ll no longer be at Union Grove, White won’t soon be forgotten.

“He left a good legacy as a good student, athlete and person,” Burgdorf said. “He has gone out and earned the right to play football at the level he’s going to play.”