ESPN 4-star quarterback Walker White of Little Rock Christian has verbally committed to Auburn.
White, 6-3, 215 pounds, narrowed his list of scholarship offers to Auburn, Clemson and Baylor before picking the SEC West school Wednesday in large part because of new Tigers Coach Hugh Freeze.
"Well, first I think because Auburn chose me," White said. "One thing I have learned is this is a two-way street. The entire staff there recruited me. Coach Freeze needs to get some sleep at some point. My gosh he is so competitive. Auburn is a beautiful place with great football tradition. I watched the end of last season. It was insane how the fan base loves that team. Coach Freeze is also an energetic head coach, and a quarterback guru, not to mention it is in the SEC West. When Coach Freeze was hired, I really hoped he would offer me.
"My coach at Little Rock Christian had heard if Freeze became the coach at Auburn that I would be the guy he wanted. And sure enough I was the first 2024 he offered. When I took my visit, the entire football staff was out front to greet me. I knew from the second I showed up at Auburn that I was their priority recruit. Then when I stepped on the field at Jordan-Hare [Stadium], I felt something special and knew in my heart, 'This place is it.' "
White made visits to Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson and Baylor last month before the dead period began Jan. 30.
ESPN rates White as the No. 6 dual-threat quarterback and No. 217 recruit in the 2024 class and the No. 2 prospect in Arkansas. Last season he completed 157 of 285 passes for 2,109 yards and 28 touchdowns with 9 interceptions, and rushed 118 times for 890 yards and 16 touchdowns.
As a sophomore, White completed 129 of 231 passes for 2,010 yards and 23 touchdowns with 11 interceptions, and had 92 carries for 487 yards and 5 touchdowns.
He said he believes he can flourish while learning from Freeze, offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery, special assistant to the head coach Kent Austin and senior analyst Jesse Stone.
"The development I believe I will get as a quarterback stands out," White said. "There is so much knowledge packed into that staff, I know the offensive coaches can maximize the gifts God gave me. That was huge. Also, the feeling and confidence you have knowing you're number one means a lot. I'm their number one guy and they made that very obvious."
White has strong ties to the University of Arkansas. His great-grandfather Harold "Greasy" Rees having played football for the Razorbacks; his grandfather John Rees played receiver from 1968-70; and his uncle John Aaron Rees played from 2005-2008. His father, David, played golf at Arkansas in the early 1990s.
"I have always loved the Hogs and always will," White said. "It's definitely my roots. It's crazy but like everyone in my entire family tree has played ball there. But something I have learned about [Arkansas] Coach [Sam] Pittman is when he hires a coach, he let's him recruit his guys. And I actually like that.
"You know, as a coach how can you be fully accountable if you're told who to recruit? As a player you need your position coach to be your advocate, especially at my position. I was never fully [former Arkansas offensive coordinator] Kendal Briles' guy. But we had a good relationship and the fact that he was always honest with me about it was super helpful. At the end of the day, I can handle you wanting another quarterback. Just be honest. Briles was awesome about that."
As his recruiting process progressed and the accolades and scholarship offers poured in, White was told he was at the top of the board for several schools and he said "focusing out of state just kind of happened."
Arkansas new offensive coordinator Dan Enos' first day on the road after being hired was to visit Little Rock Christian to check on White.
"I will say since Coach Enos was hired, he and Coach Pittman have done a great job recruiting me and letting me know I was their number one guy," White said. "Coach Enos was hired on a Wednesday night I think, and he was in my school Thursday morning. And Coach Pittman has been awesome. He spent like two hours with my dad in his office when we went on our visit, just trying to get back in the mix. .
"But for whatever reason when I left campus, I just wasn't able to flip the switch in my mind. For basically my entire recruitment I hadn't been the guy there so I hadn't considered the Hogs until Coach Enos. He is an awesome guy and I think he's going to do really good."
White said he has no hard feelings towards Arkansas.
"I will always love the Hogs," he said. "My grandma Joy has a great mindset about family gatherings these days. We have a big family and it's easy to be all sad about the people that can't make a holiday or a dinner or whatever event it is. She tells us all to 'celebrate the ones who are there.' I used that mindset in my recruiting. I focused on schools that showed up."
Verbal commitments are nonbinding.