BATON ROUGE, La. — If you’re only as good as the people giving you advice, LSU football player Devin White is in a pretty good position.
Stepping in as one of the LSU football team’s two starting inside linebackers for 2017, White has showed out this spring as both a talented performer and a vocal leader. And he gives all the credit for his ability to be this kind of player to the teammates who came before him. But not just the ones you’d expect.
Let’s start with the most obvious part of White’s game: the way he makes plays. The sophomore credits departed senior and former LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith for teaching him the ins and outs of the position. After Beckwith went down with a knee injury versus Florida last year, the All-SEC linebacker sat White down and taught him how to play his position.
Which is quite an achievement because, as White jokes, Beckwith doesn’t really talk much. That’s where Duke Riley came in.
The LSU football team’s other departing starting inside linebacker, Riley was the heart to Beckwith’s brains. And from Riley’s heart, that drive to make himself and everyone around him better, White learned how to be a teacher.
“At the end of the day, Duke Riley wanted to see me succeed,” White said. “Last year was his first starting year, but he taught me like he wanted me to take his starting spot. He wanted to see me have a bright future. So that’s what I’m going to do to the next guy. I’m going to teach them everything they need to know.”
So Riley convinced White to be a teacher. But, oddly enough, it was former LSU safety Jamal Adams who taught White how to be a teacher.
“Me and him had a bunch of talks and we still do to this day,” White said of Adams. “(Communication is) what he was telling me we need on this team because that’s what’s going to keep us going. Without communication in (defensive coordinator Dave) Aranda’s defense, the defense is nothing. I knew that somebody had to do it, and I’d be the one. Whatever it took, extra studying or extra film, I do it all.”
Combining Beckwith’s knowledge, Riley’s passion and Adams’ vocality would be exhausting enough. But that last driving force, that drive to watch one more reel of film or take one more gander at the playbook, that might be White’s defining characteristic.
And that’s all Leonard Fournette.
White came to LSU after playing both linebacker and running back in high school. As recently as last January, White was bent on playing running back. As such, Fournette was and is a major influence on White, even after he transitioned to linebacker.
Fournette’s main contribution to White’s mindset? Yep. It’s the drive.
“From him, it was mainly the work ethic,” White said. “He called me (Wednesday) and asked me if I was being a leader on the team. Age don’t matter, because when (he) was a freshman or a sophomore, that’s what was expected of him. Being around him, he helped me mature a lot.”
There’s a lot expected of White this season. Filling in for Beckwith is no easy task, especially as a sophomore with zero starts to his name. But he doesn’t feel any pressure. He said he’s too prepared to feel pressure.
With Beckwith, Riley, Adams and Fournette in his corner, he’s probably right.