White too loyal for his own good

Surely Devin White is just teasing everybody, right?

I mean, really.

In this day and age, it’s not enough that the LSU linebacker insists on playing in the Tigers’ Fiesta Bowl game against Central Florida.

Now White won’t even rule out the possibility that he just might be back next year for his senior season.

Many will tell you — and him — that the Fiesta is fairly well meaningless because it’s just for grins, giggles and a little bowl swag, mostly because it will have no effect on crowning your national champion.

That’s kind of the point with White.

Unfinished business — business that can’t be finished in the Phoenix area.

“I said at (SEC) media day I wanted to be the best linebacker of all time at LSU,” he said Tuesday before the Tigers resumed practice for the first time since the frustrating Texas A&M marathon. “I don’t know if I’ve reached that yet. I want to win a championship for Louisiana. I see the videos of guys like Matt Flynn kissing the (2007 BCS national championship) trophy and wonder, ‘Why can’t that be me?'”

With most players, when they have that Why-can’t-it-be-me moment?, it’s seeing their peers cashing those first-round NFL draft checks.

Tuesday head coach Ed Orgeron compared White to two linebackers he’s coached at other stops, perennial All-Pros Ray Lewis (Miami) and Patrick Willis (Ole Miss).

Pretty good company.

Virtually every projection has him as a top-10 overall pick if he decides to scratch that NFL itch a year early.

So cooler heads will probably prevail in White’s case, too.

Officially, White is just saying that he won’t even think about next year until after the bowl.

Orgeron says he hasn’t heard yea or nay.

White has only hinted that he might come back next year. But at least one teammate added to the intrigue Tuesday.

“I don’t know what he’s going to do (but) he says he’s going to stay,” White’s backup, Patrick Queen, offered of what White has been telling teammates. “If he stays, I’m ready for it.”

OK, fine and good. But enough’s enough. That would be when Orgeron would need to step in for White’s own good, save him from himself, and maybe change the locks on the football building.

White mentioned Bradie James (1999-2002) as one he’s still chasing to be known as LSU’s all-time best linebacker. Us old-timers might toss in Michael Brooks (1983-86) as a worthy possibility.

But none of them won the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker, which White added to his collection last week.

It should be quite enough that White has consented to play in the bowl.

At last count there were 13 players nationwide who’ve sent bowl regrets, including LSU All-American cornerback Greedy Williams.

So maybe the Tigers should be grateful they will be missing only one of their three defensive All-Americans. Safety Grant Delpit is just a sophomore.

It’s a hot topic.

“Here’s what I’ll say,” Orgeron said Monday of Williams’ decision. “I’m old-fashioned. I think the team comes first, but I understand. He’s a father already; I didn’t go against it.”

Maybe even a blessing, Orgeron added.

“It has to be in your heart, you have to want to be here. If you don’t want to be here, I really don’t want you to be around. If a guy is done, I like him to tell me and I’ll honor that. I’m not mad at him. Do I agree with it? Not necessarily.”

Williams has caught some flack on social media from LSU fans, with the comparisons to White’s decision all too easy to muster up.

“I would like that people not to do that,” White said, “because at the end of the day, we’re two different people. We play for two different reasons.

“I respect his reason … I talked to him when he was making his decision, that he was ready to go pro, and he felt like he shouldn’t play in the game because of a lot of past incidents with a lot of top players.

“He cried like a baby, that’s how much he wanted to be around us. It wasn’t an easy decision.

“I felt like he did a lot for this program. As far as the cornerback position, you can put him up there with any of the greats that you talk about.

“He’s going to go chase his dream. Hopefully he’ll be the No. 1 cornerback off the board and he’ll take care of his daughter and his family for the rest of his life.”

White will wait and make his own decision about next year.

“I got a lot of great people around here that’s gonna help me make a great decision for me and my family and the team, what’s best for the team,” White said. “After the bowl game, I’m gonna sit down with all the right people and we’re gonna make the best decision for me.”

Should be an easy decision.

But for White, apparently, it’s not that cut and dry.


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com””

LSU linebacker Devin White during an interview at NCAA college football Southeastern Conference media days in the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/John Amis)

John Amis