Lonnie White Jr., the two-sport star from Pennsylvania's Malvern Prep who committed to Penn State's 2021 football recruiting class, has decided to play professional baseball.
The Pittsburgh Pirates announced Monday that they have signed White, whom they selected with the 64th pick of the 2021 Major League Baseball Draft. White told Joe Santoliquito of Philly Voice on Sunday that he planned to sign with the Pirates and forgo college football, at least for now.
"I am happy, and this decision wasn't about any type of money," White told Santoliquito. "It was more about the happiness of doing something I love to do, even though I still love football. Baseball has always been in my heart. The contract is over the slot value, and it also involves my future education."
Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the White agreed to a $1.5 million signing bonus. The bonus slot value applied to White's pick is $1,050,300, though the parties were free to negotiate a signing bonus worth more money.
According to Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline, Pittsburgh had about $2.2 million to spend on its remaining two picks of the 2021 draft. The Pirates had MLB's highest bonus-pool value ($14,394,000) to spend on signing draft picks.
White was an intriguing player of Penn State's 2021 recruiting class, a two-sport standout who also planned to play baseball for the Lions. He signed his football Letter of Intent last year, prompting Penn State coach James Franklin to call White "our version of Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders."
But Franklin knew all along that White could choose another path. At Big Ten Media Days last week, Franklin told reporters that White had not made a decision, and the coach sounded hopeful that his continued recruiting pitch could convince White to play football.
"A few days ago, I thought it was a done deal," Franklin told reporters at the Big Ten Media Days, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I knew what he was doing. I just got a text message [from White's mother Reggie] that it's changed in another direction. I'm not sure; I think it depends on the date.
"I didn't tell you what the direction was two days ago and I won't tell you what the direction is today, so don't try to assume anything."
On Monday, Franklin congratulated White for signing with the Pirates.
Though not surprising, White's choice impacts Penn State's 2021 recruiting class. He was among three receivers in the group, which includes quarterback Sean Clifford's brother Liam. White had the potential to be a game-breaking receiver for Penn State, which looked forward to showcasing his size (6-2, 210 pounds) and speed in its offense.
Without White, Penn State's 2021 recruiting class also lost its second Pennsylvania commit. Offensive lineman Nate Bruce, a Harrisburg native, no longer is with the program.
As a result, just two Pennsylvania players remain in the 2021 class: tight end Khalil Dinkins and kicker Sander Sahaydak.