After 35 consecutive starts at cornerback, Tre’Davious White might be a little harder to find for LSU’s opponents this season.
One one play, he may be lined up as a cornerback in the 3-4 scheme run by new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.
On the next snap, White could slide inside to nickel back — where the senior’s vast experience and knowledge, as well as physicality, will better serve the Tigers defense against pass-happy offenses.
Wherever he is, or whatever his assignment calls for him to do, White will enjoy it if the first week of preseason practice is any indication.
“It’s fun, it’s fun,” he said after the first two practices in his new role last week. “I’ve been enjoying the change.”
The best part of it, White said, is being able to show his versatility while letting two talented sophomores — Kevin Toliver and Donte Jackson — get some extra snaps on the outside.
“Any time you can move around and make plays and put yourself in other positions to show your versatility, it’s good,” said White, who said he’s still playing on the outside in Aranda’s base defense.
Basically, White is taking the role played last season by Jalen Mills when he finally got on the field at midseason after fracturing his ankle in August.
The difference is Mills, a former cornerback who was selected in the seventh round of the NFL draft in April, played safety under former defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.
But like Mills, the switch will allow White, who considered entering the NFL draft before announcing he would return to school for his senior season, an opportunity to do some things he wouldn’t be doing out on the island.
“I can blitz, I can be around the football more, I can make more tackles,” said the 6-foot, 197-pound White, a first-team preseason All-Southeastern Conference pick. “It’s going to be fun, plus there won’t be any missteps with Kevin and Donte. Those guys are ready for the challenge.”
White said he played the nickel in his second game as a freshman in 2013, but earned the starting cornerback job the next week. He’s been a fixture there ever since even though he missed one game last season because of injury.
While some cornerbacks at this level might consider themselves to be a cornerback only, White said he isn’t worried about leaving his spot – especially if it’s beneficial to the team and contributes to its overall success.
He got a taste of it when he played nickel and safety in the Texas Bowl in December against Texas Tech and the Red Raiders’ high-flying passing game.
“I really define myself as being a defensive back,” White said. “I don’t put any limitations on myself, so it’s whatever the coaches want me to do. If they see a need for me to play nickel, I’m all for it.”
He said he’ll still be covering wide receivers in his new role, but will also have to match up with bigger tight ends from time to time, too.
While the 5-foot-11, 167-pound Jackson played the nickel spot a lot as a true freshman last season, Aranda wanted a bigger physical presence there as well as someone who’s seen a lot in three SEC seasons.
“Learning offenses and knowing formations, just knowing what I’m going to get in certain aspects of the game went into it,” White said. “So a lot of it was mentally knowing more football and having more snaps under my belt.”
He said defensive backs coach Corey Raymond, who informed him of the staff’s new role for him near the end of spring practice, noted the versatility he’s gaining could serve him well in the eyes of NFL scouts.
“It creates opportunity for him to make more plays,” Raymond said last month. “He’ll get some sacks, get some picks. It puts him in a lot of different places to make a lot of plays. That’s why we're doing that.”