Mike White knows how much pressure comes with being a starting pitcher.
So when he’s faced with oncoming rushers on the football field, finding the poise to fire a perfect pass to his receiver is second nature.
“It’s really a mental thing in baseball because you are out there alone and it’s up to you to deliver the perfect pitch,” White said. “Learning how to be in control on the mound has made it easier for me to handle pressure on the football field. I know I have 10 guys with me that have my back in a tough spot.”
White, University School’s 6-5, 190-pound senior starting quarterback, is an All-American pitcher already earning acclaim for his hard-throwing right arm. But he has made his most meaningful throws so far this season behind center for the state-bound Suns, who will try to win their first state title 1 p.m. Saturday when they play Madison County in the Class 3A final at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
White, who has been offered a scholarship by Marshall University, was a Miami Herald All-Broward first-team pitcher last season after compiling a 9-2 record and a 0.43 ERA as a junior.
White has completed 154 of 225 passes for 1,905 yards and 20 touchdowns to only two interceptions this football season.
White would love to play both sports at the college level if possible.
His efficiency, especially in big games during the postseason, has drawn the attention of more colleges, and is a major reason University is making its second appearance at state in the past three seasons.
“Mike’s abilities on the baseball diamond as a pitcher has enabled him to withstand the situations we’ve faced this season,” University coach Roger Harriott said. “He’s been one of the positive role models on this team.”
Distributing the football to University’s vast array of weapons hasn’t been a problem either.
White has developed on-field chemistry with the Suns’ talented receiving corps of Jordan Cunningham, Dionte Taylor, Sam Bruce, Emmanuel Soto and D.J. Woods, as well as Jordan Scarlett and Lajuan Hunt out of the backfield.
The latter duo has combined for 2,080 yards and 35 touchdowns rushing to balance the offense.
Harriott said White, however, is the key conductor on an offense that has scored 470 points in 11 games so far this season (42.7 points per game).
Last week against Clearwater Central Catholic, White had his most prolific passing game completing 25 of 29 attempts for 320 yards and two touchdowns.
Senior defensive end Maquedius Bain, who also has lined up at tackle at times, is also an accomplished two-sport star (basketball and football) and relates to White’s abilities being enhanced by his experiences in another sport.
“For me, I know basketball has helped me tremendously with my footwork and my agility because I feel faster than the average guy my size,” Bain said. “Mike has a strong arm and has become a calm leader on the offense.”
The Suns will face an experienced Madison County squad that lost in the state final to American Heritage-Delray last season. The Cowboys are led defensively by end Brandon Crawford, who has 91 tackles and 12 sacks.
“Every game, we keep the mindset that we haven’t accomplished anything yet,” White said. “Our one goal in mind every game has been to win the state championship.”