Jon'al White was not an unknown player. Louisiana High School football fans knew about Ruston's hard hitting defense, led by ball hawking safety Javantay Crowe and punishing defensive lineman Jon'al White.
In 2008, Ruston finished 7-3 in the regular season. They beat Denham Springs in the first round 28-13. In the second round, Ruston had to travel to face the heavily favored Destrehan Wildcats.
Destrehan, led by future Louisiana Tech Bulldog Rufus Porter on defense, had not scored less than 20 points on offense all season. The undefeated Wildcats ended up beating Ruston 17-10. It was the least amount of points they had scored all year until the championship game. Destrehan capped off an undefeated season by beating West Monroe 14-3 in the Louisiana Superdome.
The 17 points Ruston allwed to Destrehan ended up being the second fewest points scored by Destrehan, after the 14 the scored to beat West Monroe. The 7 point margin of victory was tied for the smallest along with their 21-14 semifinal win over Baton Rouge Central.
The defense set the tone for the Bearcats early in 2008. Ruston gave up just 15 total points in starting the season 4-0. Outside of a loss at West Monroe, Ruston never gave up more than 17 points in a game. They held seven opponeents to 10 or less points.
After the season, Louisiana Tech signed both Javantay Crowe from Ruston and Rufus Porter from Destrehan. Jon'al White from Ruston ended up signing with Jones County college in Mississippi.
When Sonny Dykes was hired as Louisiana Tech's Head Coach, he asked Stan Eggen to remain on staff. He asked Coach Eggen to move to defensive line, where he had coached at Texas A&M and other schools. Coach Eggen also agreed to be Tech's recruiting coordinator.
Coach Eggen knew that Tech had not signed enough defensive linemen in the previous two classes. In 2009, Shakeil Lucas was the only defensive lineman signed out of high school. IK Enemkpali and Justin Ellis ended up changing to defensive line from linebacker and offensive line respecively in order to shore up the defensive front. Kendrick James also ended up making the move from linebacker to defensive end.
Coach Eggen immediatly began to identify defensive linemen that could come in and help right away. With Mason Hitt and Ramone Randle being seniors, Lucas will be the only interior scholarship lineman returning with experience in 2011. Ellis hasn't played yet this season, but is expected to be healthy enough to play in Tech's final four games.
One of the first players Coach Eggen reached out to was Jon'al White. Tech has had offers out to several high school defensive linemen. White was the first junior college defnesive lineman offered and he has been in close contact with Louisiana Tech. Jones County plays a lot of games on Thursday, allowing White to attend college games on Saturday. He has been to at least two Tech games in Ruston, as well as Tech's season opeing win against Grambling in Shreveport.
White has been eager to return home and play for his hometown Bulldogs. He also is ready to reunite with his former teammate, Javantay Crowe. White has been a force from the beginning at Jones County. In 2009, he had 47 tackles, three sacks, and a forced fumble. This season, Jon'al has continued to wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines. The 6'1" 300 pound sophomore has 37 tackles and 3.5 sacks to his credit.
White said he wants to come in and be a leader on defense for Coach Dykes and Defensive Coordinator Tommy Spangler. With Hitt and Randle graduating, there will be plenty of opportunities for White and other newcomers to make a difference.
If you were in the stadium that night in 2008 when Destrehan and Ruston faced off, you know there was some defense being played. With three of the top defensive players that night suiting up for Louisiana Tech, fans know they are in for some exciting defnese at Tech games in the future. In fact, a senior cornerback in that game, Antonio Parker, also plays for Jones County. As a redshirt freshman, Parker has 26 tackles, two interceptions, and one pass breakup. The 5'11" cornerback was recruited by Louisiana Tech out of high school, and eventually signed with Tulsa. Don't be surprised if he isn't on Tech's radar for the 2012 recruiting class. If he graduates on time, he may even be eligible for the 2011 class and have three years to play.
Jon'al White is an intense player who will bring a lot of leadership and enthusiasm to the Bulldog program. This is a very good pickup for Louisiana Tech. Quality Defensive Tackles are very important to any team and they are very hard to come by. Coach Dykes, Coach Spangler, Coach Eggen, and the rest of the staff have already shown that they can recruit quality defensive linemen to Louisiana Tech and it will pay off huge down the line.