When all-state defensive tackle Maurice White was a senior at Detroit's Pershing High School in 1998, he narrowed his choices to the University of Toledo and Minnesota.
In the end, White accepted a football scholarship to play for Minnesota.
"The lure of the Big Ten and television exposure was what took me up there," White said yesterday. "I was 18 years old. I really didn't know any better. People I knew were telling me to go to Minnesota, so I did."
White, 6-4 and 265 pounds, red-shirted as a freshman, then played in 10 games for the Golden Golphers last season. He made four starts, recorded 31 tackles, three sacks, two fumbles recoveries, two pass breakups, and one interception.
White left Minnesota in March and returned in Detroit so he could be closer to his girlfriend, Quonta, whom he married July 21, and his 1 1/2-year-old son, Maurice, Jr.
"It was a combination of things that made me leave Minnesota," White said. "I wasn't real happy with the situation there. I liked the players a lot, but I wasn't real happy with the coaching staff.
"I wanted to come back home, be near my family and hopefully transfer to another school."
White's wish will come true this morning. He has been released from his scholarship at Minnesota and said he will sign an offer of financial aid to play for Toledo. According to NCAA transfer rules, he will have to sit out this year, but will have two years of eligibility remaining, beginning with the 2002 season.
White will be able to practice with the Rockets, who ironically open their season against Minnesota Aug. 30 at the Glass Bowl, but he will not be able to travel with the team or dress for games.
"I'm just excited to be involved with football again," he said. "I don't think sitting out a year will hurt too much."
White said Minnesota coach Glen Mason called him last month and tried to talk him into returning to school. White said he'd get back to Mason, but never did. Michigan State also expressed an interest, but White said the Spartans weren't willing to offer him a scholarship right away, preferring instead to wait until 2002.
When first-year UT coach Tom Amstutz offered White a scholarship right away, White jumped at the offer. NCAA rules prohibit Amstutz from commenting on a transfer or potential recruit until after they have signed their offer of financial aid.
The Rockets will lose six of their top eight defensive lineman after the 2001 season, so signing White appears to have filled a huge void.
"I know I can play in the MAC because I was a starter in the Big Ten and I played well there," White said. "I did better than most people thought I would. I hope I can come to Toledo and have the same kind of impact I had at Minnesota. I certainly don't want to disappoint anyone."