Lonnie White Jr. won’t factor into Penn State’s wideout rotation this fall, after all. And, maybe, that’s as expected.
The two-sport standout head coach James Franklin lauded as the Nittany Lions’ version of Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders on signing day last December is no longer going to play for the Nittany Lions this fall; he has elected to turn pro, signing a contract to start his professional baseball career with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday.
White was the No. 64 overall pick in the MLB amateur draft earlier this month, and the Pirates lobbed over-slot bonus money at him to sign him away from Penn State and, as it turns out, football.
Source: Lonnie White Jr. gets $1.5 million. Slotted value for that pick was $1,050,300.
— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) July 26, 2021
Certainly, this is not stunning news. When a college football prospect is chosen that high in the baseball draft…well, anyone who has spent any time around baseball knows a few things: 1.) The organization thinks that player is sign-able, and 2.) You have to be a much, much better football prospect to consider turning down life-changing money.
Question now is, what does all of this mean for the Penn State receiving corps that was likely counting on White to be a bigger contributor this fall? On one hand, he’d have been nice to have as a compliment to starters Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington and among the other guys fighting for playing time, like Daniel George, KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Cam Sullivan-Brown, Malick Meiga and some of the other incoming freshmen. On the other hand, how can you miss what you never really had?
In short, Penn State will certainly go to the “next man up” standby. Who that is right now, we’ll start to find out when camp opens next weekend.
Donnie Collins has been a member of The Times-Tribune sports staff for nearly 20 years and has been the Penn State football beat writer for Times-Shamrock Newspapers since 2004. The Penn State Football Blog covers Nittany Lions, Big Ten and big-time college football news from Beaver Stadium to the practice field, the bowl game to National Letter of Intent Signing Day. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5368; @DonnieCollinsTT