For many recruits, there's nothing more alluring than playing football at the University of Alabama.
You know you'll play for National Championships—since 2009, the Crimson Tide have competed in six championship games, winning five. You'll run onto the field in front of 101,281 rabid fans for every home game. You'll be coached by arguably the greatest college football coach in history, Nick Saban, and you'll have a tremendous chance at eventually getting drafted by an NFL team.
But Brevin White isn't your typical recruit. Why? Because he chose to play in the Ivy League over the SEC.
White, a four-star quarterback from Paraclete High School (Lancaster, California), chose Princeton on National Signing Day over offers from Alabama, Washington, Utah and a number of other major programs. As a member of the Ivy League, Princeton competes in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as 1-AA). How did White, who threw for 54 touchdowns and 3,931 yards his senior season, end up picking Princeton?
"I came to a realization of what I wanted in a university and redefined success for myself," White recently told The Washington Post. "My junior year was a big year for me to grow up and be a man, not be the typical high school student-athlete who is just pursuing football for the next four years."
White believes that the blend of academics, relationships and athletics that Princeton offers is simply the best fit for his values.
"One thing that I do like from all this happening is I hope I set a trend and open the eyes of some other recruits to really visualize what they want in a college experience and focus on the bigger picture rather than just having fun for four years in college. This process has been a great blessing. I really do hope that other recruits see this as a rare opportunity and the Ivy Leagues make a bigger push for bigger-time athletes," White told SI.com. "You look in the stands at all these big colleges and you see 100,000 fans. 'Wow, it'd be cool to run out of the tunnel in front of that and play in front of those crowds and you're getting your school paid for.' You get a nice place to live. All of those things are nice. At the end of the day, there's a greater payoff from Princeton and all of the Ivies if you apply yourself and work hard because they do offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience, just in a different way than the bigger universities."
White also still has a great shot at the NFL if he plays well enough at Princeton. Remember, Carson Wentz—the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft—played at a 1-AA school. So did Jimmy Garropolo, who just became the highest-paid player in the NFL. And if the NFL doesn't work out, White will have an impeccable education to fall back on (he plans to major in finance).
White's recruiting story shares some parallels with that of Marques Colston. Colston, the greatest receiver in New Orleans Saints' franchise history, turned down an offer from the University of Missouri (who was a member of the prestigious Big 12 conference at the time) to play at 1-AA Hofstra University. To this day, he has zero regrets.
"The perceived biggest opportunity isn't always the biggest opportunity at the end of the day," Colston told STACK. "I think in the recruiting process, a lot of people get tied up in the big-name schools and being able to select that hat on commitment day. But it's more about understanding where you're at and where you want to go."
Take a peek at White's junior highlights below:
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