White's success brings hope
The No. 1-rated WR and UA All-American is the pride of his community
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Dressed in a blue button-up shirt, black slacks, black shoes and a letter jacket, he strolled into Dunbar High School with a smile on his face. In an age of flamboyant athletes, the pride of the Fort Worth community was quiet, but with a sense of pride.
That's Darius White.
Most people describe White the same way: He is humble, soft-spoken, the definition of a student-athlete, and a player who puts the team first. His teammates' success means as much as, or more than, his personal success.
Known by his peers and fans simply as "D-Money," the No. 1 receiver prospect in the country has become somewhat of an emerging legend in the area. For Dunbar principal Doug Williams, White is a model student and athlete whom he can point to directly when addressing students entering Dunbar as freshmen.
"We're just excited for Darius," Williams said. "This young man is outstanding, and you would never know he's the big man on campus. You would never know the caliber he is because he walks around like he's just another person on campus. It's great to have him here and us be able to show the underclassmen what you need to do to be successful."
White's success culminated with an Under Armour All-America honor, which is huge not only for him, but also for his teammates and the Fort Worth Independent School District.
"It's a great honor," the 6-foot-3, 195-pound White said. "I never thought it would come until this day. Now I'm here receiving my jersey; I'm very thankful and thank God. I really believe this means a lot to the community and gives everyone a boost to what you can achieve. When I was a ninth-grader, I was never thinking about this."
Dunbar football head coach Todd Lawson played at Dunbar and then in college at Utah. He has a complete understanding of what White's success on and off the field means.
"He's at a school that is very community-based," Lawson said. "The community and city is close-knit to the school. They want to see us do well. When an individual does well, the entire area is really beaming. They see he has done well with his grades and done well on the [SAT] test. Coming from an inner-city school, you don't hear a lot of things like that. You normally hear the negative, but he's a real positive entity that we have coming through here. It's meant a lot. Now we have kids down at the Pee Wee leagues wanting to see Darius. Kids come up here to the school just wanting to meet Darius."
While football is now White's calling card, that was not always the case.
When he entered Dunbar as a freshman, football was secondary. Basketball was his first love, but not his only love. Football was on his mind, as was baseball. He participated in track as well, but he ran and jumped to help the team. However, ESPNU's No. 6-rated prospect in the nation would have rather been on the basketball court.
"He started playing when he was four for the Riverside Eagles," said White's mother, Demetric Austin. "He did not want to play football. He cried when he first got hit. After that first hit, he didn't get hit anymore. He just ran like crazy after that. I knew around 7 or 8 he was pretty good in sports. From then on, I knew he was going to do something, I just didn't know in what. He loved basketball."
For Lawson, White's understanding of his future in football came during his sophomore year.
"When he first got here, he was doing both," Lawson said. "After his freshman year, he was so far above everybody else. When he went to basketball as a sophomore, the other guys had gotten bigger and stronger. He went through the growing process of seeing what everybody else was doing. He started growing, understanding and absorbing things like a sponge. When he got to that point and understood that success was more than just natural ability, he decided he really liked football and that he could have a future in football."
Once he decided football was the sport in which he could reach great heights, White learned at a quick pace and applied it to the field. Combining newfound knowledge and understanding with immense physical talent, White was often dominant as a junior drawing bracketed coverage weekly. Along with seeing his star pupil dominate on Friday nights, Lawson has also seen him grow off the field.
"It's been a long process, but a good process," Lawson said. "To see a good young man come in from a good home with morals and such has been great from a growth part of it. People talk about the wins and losses and achievements, but to see him grow into a young man, that's what it's all about. Man, that's awesome. That's what it's all about right there. As a player, the sky's the limit for Darius."
White remains one of the top uncommitted players in the country. He took an official visit to Utah on Sept. 26. Visits to LSU, Florida, USC, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State are still possibilities.
Gerry Hamilton has covered recruiting in Texas and the Southwest for over a decade. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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