All-American linebacker Devin White has never been shy about much of anything. He was almost always the first LSU player to show up for interviews last season, and he generally tells you how he feels in that setting.
White spoke with reporters Tuesday before LSU’s second practice of the spring. Here’s a transcript of a lively Q&A session in which White touched on LSU becoming a linebacker factory, the underclassmen battling to start alongside him and his plans to dominate the offense this spring.
QUESTION: How weird is it to have five inside linebackers here for spring practice?
DEVIN WHITE: “You get to be coached by the best defensive coordinator the game, and he’s your position coach. If you want to go to the NFL as an inside linebacker, look at LSU inside linebackers in the league. People are taking those guys just because they know they’re trained right. It’s like an inside linebacker factory that nobody talks about, and we don’t really need nobody talking about us because we’re doing what we’re doing, and it’s speaking. Kwon (Alexander), he’s going to get a big contract coming up. Deion (Jones), he should. So I feel like this is the place to come if you want to play linebacker and you’re going to get to play in the SEC. And they’re rebuilding all this stuff around here, so you’ll get to enjoy that. And Coach O, he’s on the incline — he’s not declining — so you’re going to win a lot of championships too.”
Q: How many guys do you host for visits on these recruiting weekends? That was quite the pitch.
DW: “Shoot, when they call me and tell me they need me to do this, I do it. Especially if I’m in town, cause I barley leave. I stay here on the weekends and host a lot of guys for them, and the guys I host, I make sure to tell them the real. I’m not trying to lie to you. I didn’t want anybody lying to me when I was coming out, so I try to tell everybody the real.”
Q: With Jacob (Phillips), did you see something click between the regular season and the bowl game?
DW: “More definitely. He had a person like me in his ear telling him how much we need him and how much he needed to get on top of his stuff so he can help the team. Cause at first it was like ‘It is what it is. I might not get in, I might do.’ That was the wrong approach to take, but as a freshman that’s how it was. When I was a freshman, I just wanted to be in. I wanted to be ready when my name was called. So we were different, but as he got it and learned, he was able to make plays. I think he was the No. 1 linebacker coming out (of high school), so his identity is there. Everybody knows who he is, so it’s just time for him to do the little things. Once you get to college all of that goes away and it’s time to re-work and do everything over again to make a new name for yourself.
Q: What’s that competition like between Jacob, Tyler Taylor and Patrick Queen to start next to you?
DW: “It’s very intense. All those guys want to learn and want to compete, and it all shows when you get on the practice field because you’ve got to win your reps, you’ve got to make plays, and you’ve got to be the quarterback of the defense when Devin is not out there. So I try to let those guys go in together and see who does all the talking, because that’s what it’s all about.”
Q: What does Tyler do well and what does Jacob do well?
DW: “Tyler plays alongside me a lot more than Jacob, so I feel like he’s able to complement me well, and I feel like he knows where to be now because he’s been studying film. I’m so proud of him, and I feel like he’s going to make the plays because he’s so aggressive and so long. I feel like Jacob is the faster one with the speed. He plays more like me. So that’s the difference. Everybody is working their own way. Jacob and Tyler actually rotate, so I can be in with either one of them. Patrick plays behind me and Micah (Baskerville) plays behind them right now, but coach is making them learn both positions. You never know what it’s going to be.”
Q: Last spring you talked to us about how many reps you took just because of the lack of inside linebackers. What do you expect this spring compared to last year?
DW: “I want to take a lot of reps because I want to get better and I want to beat the offense. I’m not going to lie, man, I just want to dominate those guys. We talk a lot of noise to each other. Especially me, I do a lot of talking, and I want to be able to back it up. If I’m on the sideline, I’m not able to make no plays, so I want to be in a lot. But if coach wants those guys to get more reps, I’m not going to complain. I’m not going to be that guy because everybody deserves a fair shot to show what they can do.”
Q: Who’re you talking to on offense?
DW: “I don’t really talk to Nick (Brossette). They don’t really got no running backs to talk to now that Derrius (Guice) is gone, cause Derrius was the one who talked all the trash. So I talk to Stephen Sullivan and Dee Anderson. I told them I want them to run a drag route so bad if I’m sitting in the middle. And the linemen, especially Bruiser (Garret Brumfield). Me and Bruiser go at it all the time. Those three guys, and recently Thad (Moss) has been talking, so he’s got to see me this spring as well. I’m putting it out there.”
Q: You don’t talk any to (Jonathan) Giles?
DW: “I kind of talk to him. I told him he’s got to prove he’s No. 7 worthy to me, but he’s a great guy. He’s so humble, so he doesn’t let me bother him.”
Q: What made him difficult to deal with last year?
DW: “He wasn’t difficult to deal with. They’re just trying to make him sound good. We have the best DBs in the country; do you think he was flying past those DBs? That’s Devin White’s quote: Do you think Jonathan Giles is flying past the best defensive backs in the country? He’s a great player and he’s going to do great for us, but we’re DBU. We lock everybody up and it shows on the field. I miss Donte (Jackson) because Donte wasn’t having that. Greedy (Williams) wasn’t having that and I wasn’t having that. I get mad when people catch a lot of deep balls on us in practice.
Q: Does that mean you’re ready to cover all these running backs? All we’ve heard about is how much the offense is going to throw to them?
DW: “Am I ready to cover them? That’s what I do. I think last year, in man coverage, I had zero passes caught on me, and you think I’m going to let one of these running backs catch a pass on me? Not going to happen.”
Q: So you think the defense is going to be good this year?
DW: “The defense is going to be great once we get into the season. My coaches have been working so hard, and that’s the reason why I’m so confident that we’re going to be good next year. Coach (Dave) Aranda is working, along with the help of the staff, but that guy is putting in a lot for this team. He really wants this team to prevail. I know everybody is buying in, and when you’ve got a lot of guys on the same page, you get results.”
Q: You’re an All-America. What do you have to prove this spring?
DW: “I’ve got to prove that I’m a better tackler, obviously. That’s something my coach wants me to improve on. I was better the last three games last season, but I’ve got to continue working on that. I’ve got prove that I can get off blocks and play blocks. A lot of people see me do that, but I want to be more efficient. I don’t want coach to have to tell the defensive linemen to do this and that to keep the blockers off of me. I want to be the guy where they can go make plays and I can get off blocks and make plays as well. And I also need to prove to myself that I can be a consistent leader. I need to do it all the time and when nobody is watching. Off the field, on the field, I need to be that leader. I know teams that win a lot of big games have great leadership.”
Q: How much are those younger guys coming to you for advice?
DW: “We’re in a group message and I think I’ve finally got them where they’re not afraid to ask questions, so they all come to me. Even outside linebackers. Even Mannie (Netherly). Mannie moved to DB and he DMed me to say ‘Bro, I need help with the film.’ So that was a good thing. I was shocked, but that’s guys wanting to learn and guys knowing that I know the defense. Everybody wants to play, and if you want to play, you’ve got to do your thing in the film room first.”