Countdown to kickoff: No. 40 Devin White may have been LSU’s best linebacker ever

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Editor’s note: We’re counting down to LSU’s Sept. 3 season opener against Florida State with a look back at the greatest Tiger players at each number from The Advocate book “LSU By The Numbers.” Tuesday marks 40 days until kickoff, so we remember No. 40, All-American linebacker Devin White:

40 Devin White

LB, 2016-18

2018 Butkus Award winner

All-American 2018

All-SEC 2017-18

If Devin White’s LSU career was made into a movie, the title could have been borrowed from the 1970s western, “Comes a Horseman.”

With his country roots, love for horses and motivation to excel at football, LSU football never saw someone like White. Even by the lofty defensive standards the Tigers are known for, White may well be the best linebacker the school ever produced.

Born in 1998, White grew up in tiny Cotton Valley, about 45 miles northeast of Shreveport. He played running back and linebacker at North Webster High in Springhill, almost to Arkansas. When he left there, having rushed for 5,031 yards and 81 touchdowns in his prep career, he was expected to go to LSU as a running back.

But White made the move to linebacker, seeing how hard it would be to get playing time behind Leonard Fournette and Derius Guice. At first he wasn’t sure it was the right decision, but two big games his freshman year against Missouri and Florida changed his mind. Soon he was constantly picking the brain of defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to sharpen the technical aspects of his game.

“Before the Florida game, I felt like I was just getting in and using my God-given ability to just make plays, but it wasn’t within the scheme,” he said. “After that, I went and talked to (Aranda) and started watching a lot of film and taking notes.”

White made the SEC All-Freshman team with 30 tackles in 12 games, saving his best for last when he had five tackles with a sack of Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson in LSU’s 29-9 Citrus Bowl win over Louisville.

“People look up to him and respect him,” Aranda said. “And the best is yet to come.”

White’s star took off his junior season. He led the Tigers with 133 tackles and had 4.5 sacks, earning All-SEC honors. He followed up in 2018 with a team-best 123 tackles (three sacks) to wind up as an All-American and LSU’s first Butkus Award winner, given annually to the nation’s top linebacker. Both years, White was named a permanent team captain.

For all his success, it was the game White didn’t start in 2018 that perhaps drew the most notoriety.

White was flagged for targeting on Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald late in a 19-3 win over the Bulldogs, earning an ejection that meant he would have to sit out the first half of LSU’s next game against Alabama. Even Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards publicly voiced his displeasure over the call.

“Someone is going to have to explain the definition of ‘targeting’ to me,” Edwards tweeted. “From what I know, that wasn’t it.” Aggrieved LSU fans raised more than $6,200 in a “Free Devin White” campaign that was used to buy billboards in Birmingham, Alabama, site of the SEC headquarters.

As it turned out, White probably couldn’t have made much of a difference. LSU trailed Bama 16-0 at halftime and lost 29-0.

White would pass up his senior season to enter the 2019 NFL Draft, selected with the fifth overall pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He became LSU’s highest-drafted linebacker in the NFL’s common draft era.

The day of his last final exam in the weeks before the Tigers left for the Fiesta Bowl, knowing that game would be his last in the purple and gold, White rode his beloved horse Daisy Mae to class, then into Tiger Stadium. He called that classic ride-off-into-the-sunset moment, “the best thing I’ve ever done.”

For that man, in that place, that was really saying something.


Year G-GS Tackles Sacks FR INTs

2016 12-0 30 1 1 0

2017 13-13 133 4.5 1 1

2018 13-12 123 3 2 0

TOTALS 38-25 286 8.5 4 1

This LSU great also wore No. 40 …

Earl Gros, FB, 1959-61

Led LSU’s 1961 champions with 406 yards rushing. Was first-round draft pick in 1962 by Green Bay Packers.

Purchase your own copy of “LSU By The Numbers” and get a get a 20% discount! Visit and enter the code LSU20.


About Mary Weyand 11096 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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