Two years ago at a seven-on-seven camp, Tre’Davious White spotted a tall, skinny defensive back.
The kid looked like he was good at football — good enough for White to run over and say hello. So he did.
“The bond clicked,” White said.
That was the first time White and Rashard Robinson met.
Now, the LSU cornerbacks are an inseparable duo — on the field, off the field and in preseason all-star teams.
Despite their age — they are both true sophomores — White and Robinson are being lauded nationally as one of the best cornerback tandems in college football’s strongest conference.
As LSU’s first week of fall camp comes to a close, the strengths of the 2014 team are emerging: a seasoned, veteran offensive line that returns four of five starters; a group of running backs that includes the No. 1-ranked signee in the land and a pair of seniors; and White and Robinson.
They’re not long-time veterans and weren’t top-rated recruits, but they proved in just one season last year that they’re talented. Maybe they took some by surprise.
“It seemed like everybody was just doubting us since we’re young,” Robinson said. “They wanted to see what we really could do.”
White shook off early problems before replacing an older player and starting the final 11 games. Robinson caught on late, starting two of the last three in replacement of Jalen Mills, who was moved to safety.
Coach Les Miles was asked about his two cornerbacks’ comfort levels entering Year 2.
“They were way comfortable last year,” he shot back.
It’s why they both made at least two all-Southeastern Conference preseason teams.
The bond between the two is a strong one. It began in the Summer of 2012, a few weeks before their senior years of high school.
White spotted Robinson from across the football field.
“I saw he was a guy that wanted to be the best,” said White, a Shreveport native. “We talked a little bit. He was telling me that it was between LSU and a couple more schools. I was already committed to LSU, so of course I tried to persuade him to come here.”
The two traded phone numbers, and the text messages began to fly.
A few weeks later, they ran into each other at another football camp.
“We saw the bond we had and the chemistry we had to be great together,” said White, the more talkative of the two. “I think that played a role in him coming (to LSU).”
They spend time away from the football field with other defensive backs, namely Rickey Jefferson, shooting pool, playing laser tag and bowling.
White calls the off-the-field games “heated.”
As cornerbacks, their games are different.
Robinson has the natural talent. He’s a tall, rangy figure who can jump. He faster, too, at least after the 20-yard mark, White said.
Robinson plays physical at the line, pushing and even shoving his defender, said receiver Travin Dural. Robinson did that best last season in his first career start: LSU stuck him on Texas A&M receiver and Biletnikoff Award finalist Mike Evans.
Evans caught four passes for 51 yards, the third-fewest of his career in an SEC game.
“His thing is he gets his hands on you and doesn’t let you off the line,” said Dural, who faces each during practice.
White is the smarter of the two. He allows the receiver to goes free at the line, while he watches and reads the wideout’s moves.
He knows where you’re going, Dural said. He’s like glue.
“(He’ll) run the route for you,” the receiver said. “He’s running the route right on the side of you.”
Robinson has improved, he said, in the mental part of the game. Things don’t seem as fast anymore. He spends time watching his gaffes last season, learning from them to prepare for 2014.
Take for instance, LSU’s loss to Ole Miss. With 1:40 left in a tie game, the Rebels converted a third-and-9 on a throw to Robinson’s side of the field.
He was inches from the receiver as the pass arrived. Ole Miss kicked a game-winning field goal minutes later.
That’s the play that really eats at him.
“I’m like, ‘Are you serious? How could I really make that play,’” Robinson said. “I could have made an interception.”
Robinson’s not alone in the studying of film and the learning of X’s and O’s. He’s got his good buddy along side of him.
Nowadays, they’re simply known as “Tre and Rashard,” the packaged deal, more hyped than two sophomores probably should be.
“I feel like we have a great chance of doing that,” White said, “of living up to that.”