Republished (first posted May 2020)
Devin White isn't a forgotten LSU Tiger, such as these guys...in fact, if he never played a down in the NFL, he'd still be the most athletically complete linebacker in our devastating history.
With the size of defensive end, the side to side speed of a safety or corner, his primal, traditional linebacking toughness, or the characteristic pursuit and never-ending fight of college football's greatest all time defensive talents, Devin White has always been a powerhouse brickhouse.
It appears, throughout the derelict corridors of social media, Louisiana State University and in fact, Alabama have seen better recent linebackers than #40...and to this I say: good gawd...where is your mind?
The fact there is even a debate as to whether he's the greatest linebacker either LSU or Alabama has ever produced is cause for immediate concern and the kind of literate retribution only we can administer. We took Devin White's greatness for granted, finally matching his defensive leadership, aggression, and influence with an attack-minded quarterback three years too late, as well as hiring the perfect coordinator for White's skill set two years after he'd left to the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Of course, we know White's future hooking up alongside Tom Brady in Tampa looks secure when NFL play returns, it's really his legendary LSU career which needs further examination: White manufactured an outrageous litany of chaos, confusion and disarray vs a laundry list of Tigers opponents in Dave Aranda's 3-4, however his supersonic statistics and overall impact would've rose to fever pitch levels had he been here...right now...under Bo Pelini.
Devvo is an LSU immortal, his face etched upon the Tigers' defensive Mt. Rushmore before his collegiate career had even ended, joining Glen Dorsey, Tyrann Mathieu, Bradie James, and Al Richardson.
Who could forget his side-to-side savagery against University of Central Florida in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl?
Forcing fumbles, hunting down Darriel Mack nonstop like he was the Terminator, White forced every defensive coordinator in the NFL to stop in their tracks, sit on the sofa, and watch the best linebacker in college football go straight up Vlad The Impaler on UCF.
Though Rashard Lawrence quite deservedly won the Defensive MVP of the Fiesta Bowl, the award should've been split between White and Lawrence, such was the magnitude of White's destructitude.
What about his absolute stamina and willingness to put his body on the line for LSU in the 7OT thriller vs Texas A&M?
Time after time, quarter after quarter, overtime after overtime, there was White rushing in on Kellen Mond from outta nowhere like he was Michael Myers sneaking up behind Jamie Lee Curtis...17 tackles, 12 of them as a solo artist, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble...oh my gawd...the man was empirical.
From 23 games in which he participated (out of a total 33), LSU held the opposing team to less than 21 points, 12 games at 10 or under, and 4 games pitching a defensive shutout, one in 2016 and 2017 each (before the Tigers pulled off this feat twice in 2018).
Even as a freshman, White led from the front....everyone knew who the baddest man in town was... this man wasn't a rising star, he was a badass affirmed.
Amassing 286 total tackles (114 solo), 182 assisted tackles, 9 passes deflected, 9.5 sacks (seems like he had more), 4 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, and 1 interception... (and a near touchdown had he not stepped out of bounds at the 2 yard line)...
The numbers barely begin to scratch the surface of his definitive powers along the LSU front or within the machinery of the Tigers defensive threshold.
His ferocious speed and undying fight on every play gave his teammates that extra breath...that extra step...one more push to creep the team forward ever closer to victory.
He supplied his teammates with a never-ending boost, from his one-on-one pursuit tackles in space (cutting down the demands on their legs / lungs to chase opponents...many of whom White just finished erasing into the ground).
Devvo always stood up to be counted in the rivalry games, forcing a fumble or snatching a fumble recovery in each game vs A&M, showing up in masterful displays vs Alabama, Notre Dame, Miami, Auburn, and even recovering a fumble during our Pyrrhic comeback attempt vs Troy when White did his best to mobilize the defense as a freshman.
Let's put this all into simplistic perspective:
A) White should have a national title, and we will always feel he left a year too early, like most LSU greats
B) his absence during the 1st half of the 2018 meeting vs Alabama (thanks to a ludicrous targeting penalty designed to rig the SEC West) is everything you need to know about Devvo's importance to the pre-2019 Tigers .
Without White's mobility or desecration, a listless Bama performance was all Tua and Saban needed to limp across the finish line...after all, this is an Alabama unit who suffered a great gnashing of teeth when they ran into Clemson's castration in the title game that year; When White was on the field, Alabama scored 13 of their 29 points, though when you talk about White's leadership, supernatural abilities, and disruption combined with LSU's gutsy 1st half defensive effort and Joe Burrow leading the team at quarterback, the game would've been vastly different.
Every LSU fan knew what was happening once the targeting flag was thrown vs Mississippi State...the same weekend Slabama's Raekwon Davis punched on a dood as he laid on the ground in agony...only receiving a conduct flag, without disqualification or suspension.
2018 was a year where a plethora of key LSU defenders were harshly ejected from nearly every game on the schedule, and Devin White's ferocious embarrassment of many opponents proved too Rated R for many officials.
They just couldn't handle Devvo...and I don't think us LSU fans could either:
We never understood what kind of unselfish, fully committed, obsessively purple and gold leader we had on our team while he was in the BR... Had he played in 2019, White would've undoubtedly worn #18, gained all the accolades & respect he roundly earned, and finished his career as a national champion colossus...plus, our injury-ravaged 2019 defense would've allowed a touchdown less per game at a minimum had White stayed...frankly, teams wouldn't have been able to breathe.
But, in these uncertain, surreal times where we no longer have European / World soccer, MLB baseball, Wilco's U.S tour, and the NBA (or tragically Kobe Bryant), we can pretend Devvo was on the 2019 team anyway....
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LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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