BATON ROUGE, La. — Think of every person who cares about you. Now, imagine ignoring every bit of advice those people are giving you. According to Tre’Davious White, that’s what you have to do while weighing your future as a NFL Draft-eligible junior.
“Don’t listen to anybody,” White said. “Mom, dad, coaches. Nobody. Don’t make the decision for them.”
A year ago, White was standing at the same crossroads that many of his younger teammates find themselves at right now. And had he declared for the NFL Draft, there’s little doubt he would be on some team’s roster today.
But White did not believe he was yet ready to be in a position to excel at the next level. So he shut out all of the outside noise — even from his nearest and dearest — and determined that he was better off coming back to LSU for one final year.
“They’re not going to be the ones out there playing,” White said. “You’ve got to do it for you. You have to make the decision for yourself. Don’t let nobody persuade you. If you don’t feel it, you can’t go. If you don’t feel it and people are pushing you to go, it’s not the right move.”
It looks like the decision is going to pay off.
White was one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award. He was named a first team all-American by the Walter Camp Foundation and second team all-American by the Football Writers Association of America. NFLDraftScout.com rates him as the No. 4 cornerback in this year’s class.
“I didn’t worry about (increasing my draft value). I had a lot of goals that I wanted to accomplish,” White said. “I wanted to be all-SEC. All-American. I wanted to win the Thorpe. I wanted to win a national championship. I wanted to graduate. I got most of those things that I wanted to do, and I feel better as a person mentally.”
It is that last element that matters most to White. The letter he wrote thanking LSU fans for their support in his four years at the school became such an online hit that school president F. King Alexander spoke with him about it.
“I got a lot of great feedback from that. The president of the university talked to me about it,” White said. “The donors to the school, especially to the athletic program, a story like me is one of the reasons why they are excited about giving money.”
White’s sense of accomplishment in the classroom carries over to the football field, where he has become more cerebral in his approach to the game than earlier in his career.
“I became a smarter player as far as on the field and in the film room,” White said.
Part of that can be attributed to new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. But for the most part, White already realized that was an area he needed to strengthen before being prepared for the pros.
“(Under) all the other coaches, I just wanted to play man-to-man. I wasn’t really worried about learning the playbook,” White said. “But if I know the whole defense, it put me in a lot better position to make plays all over the field. I pretty much know the whole defense in and out.
“I wanted that for myself coming into my senior year. I’m more NFL-ready now because of my play and knowledge of the whole game.”
Though he knows returning to LSU was the right decision for him, he also knows that one size does not fit all. For instance, Leonard Fournette’s case is very different from his own.
“Weigh all your options,” White said of his advice to teammates. “If you have any doubt in your mind about how you can contribute at the next level, don’t go. If you know in your mind that you’re ready, go.”