COLLEGE PARK -- The 1992 White family fact-finding mission didn't have Maryland on its itinerary, but it's where Ron "Bam-Bam" White figures to spend the next four years.
A year ago, White was the 23rd-rated offensive-line prospect in the nation by the Super Prep scouting bureau, and USA Today had him as a second-team All-American.
Ronald White Sr. didn't wait for recruiters to come to himhowever. Dad, mom and younger brother Jason headed south out of western Pennsylvania in June 1992, joining Ron on unofficial visits to seven colleges, a portion of his long list.
The family van stopped at Virginia Tech, South Carolina, GeorgiTech, Clemson, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Virginia. Maryland was a last-minute addition on the way home from Charlottesville, Va.
"I had gotten a letter, but I didn't even know the school was here," White said. "I thought it was going to be right in the city. The facility [football complex] wasn't completely done, and at first I wasn't too high on the place. I was real high on South Carolina."
When Gamecocks players revolted against coach Sparky Woods and asked that he quit early last season, White's enthusiasm waned and the recruiting war intensified. After last summer's southern swing, White visited Arizona State and also checked out Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Ohio State. He was a guest of Penn State on Sept. 26, when the Nittany Lions routed the Terps, 49-13.
"Penn State would score, but Ronnie wasn't cheering," his father said. "His heart wasn't in it. The more he went down to Maryland and got around their players and coaches, the more he wanted to be there."
The Whites were at Byrd Stadium for victories over Pitt and Clemson, and Ronald White Sr. raved about "the family atmosphere" at Maryland. It wasn't the idyllic setting of the Whites' 100-acre farm an hour south of Pittsburgh, but it would be good enough for Bam-Bam. Penn State coach Joe Paterno wanted to visit, but before he could, White made an oral commitment to the Terps on Jan. 1.
The barbs from his home state won't stop soon.
"At the [Pennsylvania-Ohio] Big 33 game two weeks ago, a guy came up and wondered if he could ask me a personal question," White said. "He pulled me aside, and then raised his voice, 'Why would you pick Maryland over Penn State?' There was pressure to stay home, but I'm confident I made the right choice."
In both the recruiting process and his son's football career, Ronald White Sr. has left little to chance. During his high school summers, Bam-Bam attended camps at California (Pa.) State, Navy and Penn State. Recruiting services knew about him early.
"We were very well-informed of Bam-Bam," said Allen Wallace, ++ who runs the Super Prep scouting bureau.
"He was promoted well, and there was a time I was wary of him. Any time a guy that big [6 feet 6, 290] is a decent athlete, he's going to be very well-publicized. But you have to step back and ask yourself, is the publicity justified?"
Maryland coach Mark Duffner and offensive coordinator Dan Dorazio seem to think so. The Terps used nine offensive linemen last fall, and White could fit into a similar rotation this season.
White also wants to be the long snapper, a job he passed on in high school.
"In high school, I screwed that up because I didn't want to do it," White said.
"I've got a good shot at playing this year, but it's so much different than high school. The steps are different, the offense is different."
White also will have the novelty of facing players his size. He's always been big, and he's been "Bam-Bam" since age 2, when an oversized Wiffle ball bat was always on his shoulder.
He wasn't aware that a movie based on "The Flintstones" is being made, but White will settle for a role in the revival of Maryland football.
THE WHITE FILE
Name: Ron "Bam-Bam" White
Date of birth: May 7, 1975
Hometown/high school: Brownsville, Pa./Beth Center
Coach's quote: "Bam-Bam has good athletic ability, and he's got a great desire to play right now," Mark Duffner said. "We'd like to get as many offensive linemen as we can in the game, but we've got to find out who's going to hit."