MOBILE, Ala. — Tre’Davious White landed at the airport in Phoenix late Thursday night, having flown in from the Senior Bowl.
An ankle sprain in practice Wednesday scratched him from the event in Mobile, and he arrived at the airport without a ride.
Naturally, White, nicknamed “Shaq,” called his former LSU teammate and current training partner out in Arizona, Dwayne Thomas.
“He wanted me to pick him up from the airport,” Thomas said. “I was like, ‘Shaq, I think I’m going there to replace you.’ ”
Thomas did arrive at the airport. As he walked in, White walked out.
Thomas, a New Orleans native, received a late invitation to the Senior Bowl on Thursday night. The bowl — hastily — replaced one LSU defensive back with another.
Thomas got the call at 8 p.m. Thursday while “laying down and watching TV.” He departed from the Phoenix airport at 1 a.m. Friday, landed in Miami a few hours later and then flew out for Pensacola, Florida, at 7:30 a.m. He made the hour's drive to Mobile, arriving around noon Friday.
“I slept on the plane,” he said.
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He walked into the lobby of the team’s hotel in Mobile and was greeted by LSU’s three other participants — center Ethan Pocic, receiver Travin Dural and linebacker Duke Riley.
“It’s pretty cool,” Thomas said from the lobby before being rushed into meetings. “It wanted to come here. Now I’ve got my opportunity to come here and show a little bit.”
He’ll play for the South team at 1:30 p.m. Saturday from Ladd-Peebles Stadium, hoping to flash skills that made him a part-time starter for LSU during his four-year career. He was not invited to lower-tier college all-star games like the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the East West Shrine Game, he said.
Now, here he is at the nation’s most high-profile college all-star event, poised to increase his value. Thomas’ draft projections vary. WalterFootball.com ranks Thomas as the 13-best cornerback in the 2017 draft class, slotting him as a second- to fourth-round draft pick. However, CBSSports.com projects Thomas to go undrafted.
Thomas evolved this season into LSU's fifth defensive back, playing the nickel position. He finished the season with 42 tackles in three starts, had seven tackles for losses and five quarterback hurries.
Thomas' first two seasons at LSU were spent rushing into the backfield. The speedster served as former defensive coordinator John Chavis' sixth, pass-rushing defensive back in his Mustang package. He was on the way to his best season as a sophomore in 2014 before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Game 5.
Thomas' addition to the Senior Bowl gives LSU six invitees to the event, more than any other school.
White joins LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith as former Tigers who will not play while recovering from injury.