CONWAY — Ian White is headed to the NFL and there are whole lot more San Diego Chargers fans in the Mount Washington Valley because of him.
Just minutes after the draft ended on Saturday, the Kennett High and Boston College graduate signed with San Diego Chargers as a free agent. He has been assigned No. 64. He wore No. 62 at B.C. and No. 16 at KHS.
White, the son of Barbara and Brad White, of Conway, shared the news on Facebook this weekend.
"I'm off to San Diego!!! Thank you to everyone that helped along the way. Also thank you to the Chargers for the opportunity!"
The San Diego Chargers agreed to terms with a total of 17 rookie free agents following the conclusion of the draft Saturday night. The Chargers start their rookie camp this week.
"Co-captain started all 13 games at right tackle a year ago at Boston College," the Chargers' website states and has the 2009 Kennett High graduate on the team's roster.
White flew to San Diego Sunday morning; took his official team physical Monday (7 a.m. west coast time); and will start team workouts Tuesday morning.
"It happened incredibly fast," Brad, Ian's dad, said, Monday. "We thought he might have like a few days, maybe have to be there on Wednesday, but the Chargers' offensive line coach called (Saturday night) and said we're thinking of starting on Monday."
White and his family were glued to the television on Saturday watching rounds 4-7.
"We had a feeling what happened would happen but just in case we made sure we watched and watched the whole thing," Brad said, laughing. "Even Ian said at one point, 'this is killing me!' Our neighbor Dick Pollock came over and said, 'Really, is this what you're going to do all day, watch TV?'"
Brad White said the Chargers, Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs were all interested in his son's service.
"San Diego and Houston had told Ian beforehand he was one of their priority free agents but there was also a possibility something might happen in the sixth or seventh round," Brad said. "It wasn't three minutes after the draft officially ended that the phone rang and we hear Ian say, 'Yes, I want to be a Charger.'"
White contacted his agent who assessed all of the team drafts and thought San Diego "was a very good fit" for his talents.
About 30 minutes after agreeing to be a Charger, White got a call from Kansas City seeing if he was still available.
Twenty minutes later, Joe D'Alessandri, the offensive line coach for the Chargers called to introduce himself to White and welcome him aboard. He also told him to head to the west coast and quickly.
White flew out of Boston at 10 a.m. Sunday to Phoenix and then onto San Diego. He had his physical Monday followed by team meetings and then workouts with his new teammates begin Tuesday morning.
"He'll be there until June 20," Brad said, "that's when the first round of camps wrap up. …He'll come home for a few weeks at the end of June into July and then head back to the full camp with a chance to make the team.
"Ian's very, very happy," he continued. "It's been his dream to play in the NFL and I told him the fact you've made it to this point you've realized your dream. The dream was to make the NFL and I consider it a win, a make. He just wanted a shot to prove he belonged and now he's got it."
White has been receiving countless phone calls, text messages, emails and Facebook well-wishes from friends, family along with Kennett and Boston College alumni.
One person to reach out was Ken Sciacca, White's football coach at Kennett High. He posted the following on White's Facebook page: "Congratulations Ian! You are a credit to yourself, your family, and Kennett football. We are very proud of your accomplishments. Good luck with the Chargers."
"The hometown support has been amazing," Brad said.
"Going undrafted doesn't kill a football player's dream of playing in the NFL, as the league has a rich history of turning undrafted free agents into valuable pieces," the popular website SB Nation states. "After the seventh and final round of the draft, teams switch gears into full-on recruitment mode. While late-round picks are obligated to show up to the respective camp of the team that drafted them, undrafted free agents have their choice of situations. While teams can't offer more than a non-guaranteed NFL minimum salary, each team is allotted a pool of signing bonus money for the process. According to Pro Football Talk, that number is just over $80,000 for 2014.
Recent players to achieve undrafted free agent success in the NFL are Arian Foster, Wes Welker, Priest Holmes, Antonio Gates and Adam Vinatieri.
"The San Diego Chargers hopped on the undrafted free agent train and started picking who they wanted to bring in for a tryout and see if they fit their team," the website Fansided reported Sunday. "Not everyone is going to end up being signed, as some are just going to be tryouts and nothing else. But they're all names to keep an eye on as you never know who will pop."
The New England Patriots signed 10 undrafted free agents Saturday night, but none of them are offensive linemen.
"All it takes is for one team to like you and be willing to give you a shot," White, a 6-foot-5, 302-pound offensive lineman with an imposing beard and yet a smile that can brighten a room, said Wednesday while working out at Cranmore Resort. "Then once you get there, it's up to you to not give them a reason to let you go."
White received calls from nearly a third of the NFL teams checking on his health status and interest in continuing his playing career in the week leading up to the draft, and one of those was the Chargers.
And what are the Chargers getting?
"A versatile, tough and smart player," White said with a grin. "Those are three things I live by."
San Diego Coach Mike McCoy described the process to secure players after the draft as "controlled chaos."
It's proven worthwhile for the Chargers, who have a streak of 17 straight seasons in which a rookie free agent made the roster out of training camp. The list includes Antonio Gates, Kris Dielman and Malcom Floyd.
Last year, undrafted safety Jahleel Addae and nose tackle Kwame Geathers made the Chargers' roster out of training camp and they remain there to date.
"It's controlled chaos to a certain extent," McCoy said in the San Diego Union-Times. "You're just waiting for that last pick to happen. Then the scouts and coaches are working together frantically to call players, their agents and get everything lined up. Who can we get? There's a budget for the amount of money you can spend on college free agents.
"It's another opportunity for the organization to work together. With the coaches and the scouts, I know we're separate more often than not throughout the entire year, but now we come together as one. There is a common goal here. We're trying to win a world championship."