SHREVEPORT, La. — LSU freshman linebacker Micah Baskerville is not the first person in his family to dream big.
Just over a decade ago, his older brother had similar aspirations, albeit in a different sport. Travion Beale envisioned himself going to college on a basketball scholarship before turning pro.
That never happened.
Beale lost focus. Made mistakes. Got sidetracked. But the loss of his dream didn’t make him bitter. It just strengthened his will to make sure his little brother’s dreams would be fulfilled.
“I look at it as a lesson learned. It’s all about what you do after I learned the lesson,” Beale said. “My past experience, I can share with Micah to stay on the right track.”
Putting the work in
Today, you’d never guess Beale ever hesitated to put the work in. His job is as demanding as they come. Beale works in the oil fields outside Shreveport, La. When he’s on duty, it means being at the job site for more than 12 hours a day, seven days straight.
But when it came to his athletic career, he didn’t develop that kind of dedication. Beale said he left the basketball team at Shreveport’s Southwood High before the end of his senior season.
“I wanted to be a professional basketball player. I didn’t chase my dream and follow it hard enough,” Beale said. “[Micah] wants to go farther in football. I encourage him. ‘Don’t give up. Hard work pays off. If this is really what you want to do, chase it. Keep striving to fulfill.’ ”
Baskerville says there is no question that his older brother’s influence has been instrumental.
“He has quit on some things. He taught me not to quit on anything,” Baskerville said. “It gives me an advantage to learn from his wrongs and learn from his rights and teaches me to be a better leader for myself and my little brothers so they can learn from my mistakes.”
Buying into the process
Baskerville has been around hard work and devotion his whole life. His father Michael is a former Marine who now works as a corrections officer. His mother Renee works in a Head Start program, helping young children from low-income families. All of them are devout Christians who attend church every Sunday.
“He’s the picture of humility,” said Byron Dawson, Baskerville’s coach at Evangel Christian Academy and a former starting defensive tackle at LSU.
But Baskerville admits he didn’t fully invest in what it would take to move his career to the next level until the end of his sophomore season.
“It took a lot of growing up and a lot of Coach Dawson’s knowledge. I didn’t really buy into the process at first,” Baskerville said. “Me listening to him gave me knowledge of really being a football player.”
When it came to carrying himself off the field, Baskerville turned to his big brother for advice.
“He’s experienced at a young age,” Baskerville said. “He tells me not to do certain things. It really helps a lot. If I hadn’t had that, I probably would have fallen [off track].”
The lessons Beale passes on to his younger brother are simple, but important. Take a late weeknight spent with friends, for example.
“You can’t lose sight of how 10 minutes can turn into hours,” Beale said. “Then your body can’t rebuild itself, and the next day at work is going to be hard. If I’m not well-rested, not paying attention, I can lose my job and position. He can mess up in class or lose a position on the field.”
The ‘Quiet Storm’
Dawson seems like a pretty trustworthy authority on defense. Baskerville’s teammate, defensive end Davin Cotton, already has joined him at LSU. A third Evangel player, defensive back ArDarius Washington, committed to LSU before signing with TCU.
Dawson is obviously fond of each of those players. But to him, Baskerville stands out.
“He was the best defensive player in Louisiana this year, hands down,” Dawson said. “He has a lot of similarities with Devin White.”
Indeed, Baskerville will be groomed as White’s protege this spring and fall. And if he does well enough in practice, he’ll even have a chance to play alongside him as LSU’s other inside linebacker.
As LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda revealed, there’s just one thing Baskerville needs to improve on.
“We’ve got to get him talking a little more,” Aranda said in a recent interview with The Advocate.
Given that Aranda is known as an introvert himself, that’s a telling assessment. But it’s true. Dawson calls Baskerville “Quiet Storm” thanks to his ability to create chaos without making a lot of noise.
“I don’t really talk a lot,” Baskerville said. “The only time I get hype is during the game. When we need the energy, when we need Uncle Mo on our side, I get really hype to boost us.”
Positions of responsibility
In order for Baskerville to one day inherit White’s role in LSU’s defense, communication will be critical. In Aranda’s defense, White is the one making sure everyone is lined up correctly before the snap.
Fortunately, Baskerville is accustomed to that responsibility. Beale’s favorite thing about watching his brother play is actually when he sees him set up the play.
“I watch how he reads the offense,” Beale said. “He lines people up to put them in position. He’s focused. He’s paying attention. He knows what to do. If he sees something that’s not right, he instantly puts them in position.”
Fittingly, Baskerville’s role on the defense is not unlike Beale’s in the oil field. As a supervisor, he’s the one who has to notice whether something is wrong with the wells. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are at stake.
“I constantly have to be alert,” Beale said. “I quarterback the show. I have to make sure to tell my guys what to do so we can keep doing job smoothly.”
Maybe it’s an inherited trait. Or perhaps it was learned. Regardless, one thing seems clear: LSU’s newest inside linebacker has a blueprint to turn his own dreams into reality.