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Football: Honoring the Seniors - CB D.J. White

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Today, we honor the man responsible for perhaps the biggest play of the Paul Johnson era at Georgia Tech.

RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

As a Recruit

D.J. White was a three-star cornerback recruit from Union Grove High School in McDonough, GA. He committed to Georgia Tech in December of 2011, flipping from a prior commitment to South Florida after an official visit to the Flats. White was the second player from Union Grove to sign with Georgia Tech under Paul Johnson (joining DE/LB Anthony Williams) and the fourth in recent memory to play on the Flats (along with LB Steven Sylvester and LB Kyle Jackson). Still, White was the most recent player from Union Grove to sign with a Power-5 program, and is one of the highest-rated prospects over the past two decades from his program. He committed to Georgia Tech, breaking a commitment to South Florida, which he had chosen over offers from Auburn, California, South Carolina, and several other programs.

As with many of Georgia Tech's players, White played on both sides of the ball in high school. Per ramblinwreck.com:

[White] averaged 8.59 yards per carry, 21.85 yards per catch, 16 yards per punt return, 22.3 yards per kick return, made 21 tackles and recorded (an) interception as senior.

White was a three-star prospect per Rivals (5.7) and the 247Sports Composite (.8799), and was unanimously considered a top-50 player in Georgia in his senior class, as well as a top-50 cornerback in the country.

On the Field

After sitting out the first four games of the season in 2012, White was able to play in some capacity in each of the team's final 10 games. He finished with 5 tackles (all solo), and even forced a fumble during the team's wild win over North Carolina.

The 2013 season saw White play in all 13 games and start 9 of them. He finished fourth on the team with 50 tackles (40 solo -- also fourth on the team), along with 5 passes defended and a pair of fumbles forced against Ole Miss. The Ole Miss game also included an interception, the first of his career and a precursor to a career-high in picks his junior season.

White fully broke out as a big-time playmaker in 2014, setting a career high in tackles with 66 (52 solo -- also a career high), breaking up 8 passes, and memorably forcing a fumble against Pittsburgh's James Conner on one of the most incredible "hustle plays" of the Paul Johnson era. But, most importantly, White recorded 4 interceptions throughout the year, each one memorable in its own way.

His first was against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, on a late drive after Georgia Tech had tied the game at 24 on a Harrison Butker field goal. After the ensuing kickoff, Hokies QB Michael Brewer took the first snap of the drive and looked to throw a deep out to his left, into a space vacated by White clamping down on the wide receiver nearest the sideline. The only problem with that? White didn't clamp down. Instead, he backed off, stepping into that previously-open space, and made an interception that set up a game-winning field goal by Butker as time expired. It was a brilliant play by White, both in design and execution, and helped to give the team momentum moving forward.

White's next interception was six games later, as the Jackets took on N.C. State in Raleigh. Early in the second quarter, Wolfpack QB Jacoby Brissett threw one of the strangest interceptions you'll ever see -- it bounced off of his intended receiver's chest, then was deflected by a covering Chris Milton's foot, and was then caught by LB Quayshawn Nealy. Nealy returned the ball over 50 yards, but was tackled and had the ball stripped, giving possession right back to N.C. State. Two plays later, Brissett threw another interception -- this time to White, who jumped the route, intercepted the pass, and took it all the way to the end zone for the only touchdown of his career. It was an excellent read and a huge play at a point in the game when it was still close, and momentum was very much up for the taking.

His third interception came in the team's following game, a home game against Clemson. Following a touchdown drive by Georgia Tech to open the second half, the Tigers' offense came out onto the field, looking to close a 16-3 gap without quarterback Deshaun Watson. In his place was backup QB Cole Stoudt, who had already thrown a pick-six to Jamal Golden in the first half after Watson went out with an injury. On the first offensive play of the second half for the Tigers, Stoudt made the same exact mistake that Brewer did several weeks prior -- he saw an open receiver on a deep out, and made what he thought was an easy throw. Instead, White backed off and covered the previously-open space, and made a nearly identical interception to the one he made in Blacksburg earlier in the year. Georgia Tech went on to win by 22 points.

Then, there was the interception. The one that will go down in Georgia Tech lore as an iconic moment in the Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate series.

After a wild, hard-fought game in Athens between Georgia Tech and in-state rivals georgia, the Jackets scored a touchdown on the opening possession of overtime, but missed the extra point, opening the door for the bulldogs. After gaining 15 yards on their first three plays of overtime, a 1-yard run by Nick Chubb set up 2nd and Goal for uga from the Georgia Tech 9-yard line. Senior QB Hutson Mason lined up in the shotgun, flanked by Chubb, with receiver Malcolm Mitchell on the near side to his left and three receivers to the right. As Brandon Gaudin reminded us shortly before the snap, Mason had thrown for 194 yards on the day. On this particular play, Mason would throw to Mitchell on a quick-slant route. And, well, as they say...the rest is history:

Instead of finding Mitchell, Mason found D.J. White, who secured the interception that will be remembered fondly by Georgia Tech fans for a long, long time. It ended the game, sealing a 30-24 win in Athens for the Jackets.

As a senior, White had a solid season, although his numbers weren't quite as strong as in 2014. He finished with 41 tackles (36 solo), tied his career high with 8 pass break-ups, forced another fumble against North Carolina, and recorded two more interceptions, including one in South Bend against Notre Dame.

D.J. White finished his career with an impressive 162 tackles, 133 solo tackles (an impressive 82.1% of his total), 5 forced fumbles, and 6 interceptions. He'll always be remembered as an impressive athlete and an incredibly instinctual player. White made his presence felt by opposing offenses, and it led to some of the biggest moments in the recent history of Georgia Tech's football team. There should be no doubt that White will be remembered extremely fondly by the Yellow Jacket fan base for years to come.

Off the Field

First and foremost, it should be mentioned that in 2015, White was elected by his teammates as one of the team's three captains, alongside Adam Gotsis and Justin Thomas. That White managed such a designation is a testament to his teammates' respect for him, both as a player on the field and as a leader in the locker room.

White was also a major participant in several community service opportunities throughout his time at Georgia Tech, giving back to the community in his spare time whenever possible. Additionally, White managed to complete his bachelor's degree in Business Administration this fall in under 4 full years since his enrollment in school!

Moving forward, White projects as a player who will be selected in the NFL Draft somewhere in the mid-to-late rounds, and could very well have a strong future as a football player. If it turns out otherwise, Yellow Jacket fans can rest easy knowing that White is yet another top-notch product from Georgia Tech who will surely find success wherever life may take him.

Congratulations to D.J. White on a phenomenal career on the Flats, and best wishes as he prepares to the NFL Draft! We look forward to the accomplishments ahead of him, whether on or off of the field.