Free Willie

The '07 GT recruiting class was well publicized and one of the best Tech classes of all time. The class has had a great impact on the field as well. It produced early stars and a number of other starters and strong contributors. As is the case with most years, however, it also produces some situations that don't work out quite so well.

The 2007 Georgia Tech recruiting class was well publicized and one of the best Yellow Jacket classes of all time. The class has had a great impact on the field as well. It produced early stars including: Josh Nesbitt, Jonathan Dwyer, Roddy Jones, Derrick Morgan and Morgan Burnett and a number of other starters and strong contributors. As is the case with most years, however, it also produces some situations that don't work out quite so well. With Willie White's departure last week, he becomes the third such player from that vaunted 20-member class of '07 to leave the program.

Willie joins fellow former commits D.J. Donley and Steven Threet as players with tons of promise but who were not able to reach those heights at GT for various reasons. Willie was a class act as a Yellow Jacket and he worked hard on the field to find his right role. White, who always greeted me with a wide grin, talked to me about his situation. He gives some insight as to why he's leaving, where he's heading to and what his thoughts are on the future for himself and his now former teammates.

White, originally the #17 prospect in Georgia according to Scout.com, was a two-way high school star who began his Tech career as a wide receiver. He redshirted in 2007 as a receiver then went through the 2008 spring as cornerback. In the 2008 season he was plagued early on by a knee injury and was moved back to receiver. He saw his first game action at home against Mississippi State as a wide receiver and saw action in two other games, but never recorded a catch.

In this most recent spring Willie continued to work for a spot on the two-deep as a receiver but near the end of spring he was starting to feel like it really wasn't working out for him at Tech. It was finally time to move on, "Right before summer school started," said White, "around the spring game." As for the reason for a change, Willie sited a change of scenery as the primary reason. "I just wanted a fresh start," said White, "That's all."

When asked if he felt the multiple position changes affected his development at Tech, Willie basically debunked that notion. "I don't know, to be honest, it didn't matter to me, I just wanted to play," said White. "But, I don't think it did."

There were a number of schools to which Willie considered transferring. Eastern Illinois, Appalachian State, Valdosta State were among the schools he contemplated attending. But it was Coffeyville Community College where he ended up choosing to attend. "They have a really good reputation and I only have to be there until January," said White, who will have the option to transfer to another school the following year.

Interestingly, another name familiar to Tech fans was part of the reason one of the schools was considered. Former Tech recruit and Illinois commit DeAngelo McCray is a buddy of Willie's and he now plays for Eastern Illinois.

Willie will start summer school at Coffeyville on June 1st. He'll play for the Ravens beginning in fall where they like and need him as a free safety. Willie didn't really have a strong preference for which side of the ball to play on so he'll be going back to defense where the Ravens say they need him the most. "I mean, it really doesn't matter to me," said White about his position on the field. "They needed me most on defense, so I'm going to go with defense."

The plans after this season will be determined at a later date. "I'm just going to take my time and find the right place," said White on what he'd do after this coming season should he decide to play in division one again. One thing's for sure, he still dreams of playing football in the NFL. "I'm planning to go to the next level, so you can do that anywhere," said White in reference to the number of pro players who come from smaller schools.

Some names which might be familiar to NFL fans have passed through Coffeyville on their way to pro careers. Those players include: Keith Traylor, Akin Ayodele, Darnell Walker, Bruce Pickens, Ron Springs, Brandon Jacobs, Mike Rozier, and John Tuttle.

As for the Yellow Jackets, Willie still holds allegiance to his former team and his former teammates and friends. "I've got confidence in them," White said about GT for the 2009 season. "I think they'll do fine. I think they're going to surprise a lot of people this year."

And for the many Tech fans who have supported Willie and will continue to do so he had this to say, "Thanks for all of the support. It ain't going to be the last you see me."

It's just a fact of life in college football that players will leave the program you follow. Some of these guys you grow pretty fond of. Best of luck Willie.


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