Why Ryleigh White Chose Texas
Ryleigh White was one of the most highly recruited 2020 pitchers in the country, as she was ranked No. 17 overall in SA's 2020 Top 100 recruiting ranking. This fall, she will begin her collegiate playing career at Texas under head coach Mike White.
But White's journey to Texas wasn't a linear path. The New Jersey native took countless flights to the West Coast to play for her California-based travel ball team, Athletics Mercado, went on dozens of college visits and even switched her college commitment before finally signing with the Longhorns.
Learn more about White's winding road to Texas below.
Softball America: At what age did you realize you wanted to play at a Power Five school?
Ryleigh White: In seventh grade, I went to a camp in New England, the New England's Finest Combine. At that time, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted and then I met coach (Mike) White and he was the coach at Oregon at the time. After the combine, he asked me to take a visit and that’s when I knew my journey was about to start.
SA: As an East Coast player, how did traveling to California to play as a member of Athletics Mercado help you gain exposure to schools all over the country?
RW: I think that traveling to California was the best for me because that gave me the opportunity to play against the best athletes from all around the country. Actually, before playing for Athletics Mercado, I was already committed to play for Tennessee, so the combines I went to got me the exposure I needed.
SA: How did your attention shift from Oregon to Tennessee?
RW: Tennessee saw me playing at the Chicago Combine and I was asked to go on a visit there. I actually went on a visit there about five times. I knew I wanted to go there, but I wanted to look at other schools before I chose where I was going to be for four or five years of my life.
Prior to my verbal commitment to Tennessee, I was between Alabama, Tennessee and Michigan. I decided after a couple days back from my visit to Oregon in seventh grade that the flight was way too far for me to be comfortable.
SA: How did you land on Texas after your verbal commitment to Tennessee?
RW: When I found out Coach White went to Texas, I thought you myself, 'Well that’s pretty cool, he is closer.' I was so set on Tennessee that even when my parents would talk to me about other schools reaching out, I didn’t want to hear about it. I loved Tennessee.
One tournament came and I saw Coach White sitting on the bleachers, and for a second, I felt so nervous, I said to myself, 'Why am I nervous? I am not even going to play for him.' After the game, I went to my parents and I immediately said, 'Did you guys see Coach Mike White was watching this game?' My parents were pretty excited about that as well.
I recently had spoken to Coach White a few times as well as my travel coaches and then I decided that I wanted to make a phone call to Tennessee and let them know I wanted to check out a couple of places again before I signed to them. They were pretty upset, but they understood and wanted what was best.
After I talked to the coaches from Texas, I thought, 'Wow, this is my kind of place.' I went on the visit and it was amazing. I got that for sure feeling I thought I already had, but I still felt nervous about Tennessee, so I slept on it for a few days and one day I woke up and said, 'I want to play for Coach White.' I called the coaches from Tennessee and I let them know I chose Texas and they were very upset but knew that playing for Coach White as a pitcher, you couldn’t go wrong with that. I called up Coach White and I committed to Texas and I was happier than ever.
SA: What was the selling point at Texas?
RW: Coach White was for sure the selling point for my family and me. The atmosphere in Texas is amazing as well. It is a very family-oriented place, which is what I love. Coach White has a passion for pitching, as he is an amazing pitcher himself. The entire staff at Texas is amazing and comforting. Playing for them is going to be such a privilege.
SA: Coming from New Jersey, in comparison to West Coast players, do you feel a sense of pride for your hometown?
RW: Definitely. Coming from New Jersey, I get a lot of questions about how I train all year round. When I tell them I have to train in a bubble or inside facilities, they always say how lucky they feel because they are able to play year-round and not worry about playing inside. I feel a sense of pride coming from Jersey because you don’t really see many people out of state in California playing ball.