Kendell Beckwith and Tre’Davious White talked as much as three or four times a day while debating in January their future: remain at LSU for their senior season or leap to the NFL?
The conversations normally began with a question from the one who made the call.
“It would start off with, ‘What you going to do, man?’ ” Beckwith said. “It would go from there.”
Sometimes, the call ended with a decision — they’d both leave for the NFL — only for that decision to change later that day.
“There were days we’d call each other and be like, ‘We might as well go on and make a move (to the NFL),’ ” White said this week. “And a couple of hours later, he’d call me back like, ‘Nah, I’m going to say.’
“The next day, it was like, ‘Man, let’s just go,’ ” White continued. “It was a process going back and forth.”
They’re dealing with a new process now.
Beckwith, the Tigers’ starting middle linebacker the past 2½ seasons, and White, a three-year starter at cornerback, are in the midst of a busy spring practice.
New coordinator Dave Aranda is installing his 3-4 defense. While that means position changes and role reversals for many, Beckwith and White are avoiding much of that. Beckwith will remain an inside linebacker, and White won’t be affected as one of LSU’s cornerbacks.
“I’m still going to play man-to-man,” White said earlier this week after the Tigers’ second spring practice Tuesday. “Same thing — got to cover. Got to cover ground and cover space. It’s the same thing.”
Sure, they have a new playbook to learn. There are new play-calls, formations and coverages, but their position isn’t changing all that much like it is for guys like Christian LaCouture, Lewis Neal and Arden Key.
LaCouture is moving to nose tackle, and Neal and Key are sliding into a variety of roles — one that includes them as stand-up ends and another that has them dropping into coverage, in roles similar to outside linebackers.
That’s not the case for Beckwith and LSU’s cornerbacks.
“Sometimes I’ll align wider,” Beckwith said, “but I still look at it as the inside backer.”
Beckwith and White were the highest rated of any of LSU’s juniors — all of which decided to remain in school, except for left tackle Jerald Hawkins. Beckwith received a “stay in school” grade from the NFL College Advisory Committee. White said his grade ranged from “mid- to late-first (round) and second for sure.”
Why come back, then?
“I wanted that security,” he said. “I wanted for-sure first round.”
He went to bed the day before the deadline not knowing a decision, he said.
“I said that night before, ‘When I wake up, whatever’s on my mind first, that’s what I’m going to roll with,’ ” he said. “That was on my mind.”
Deep inside, Beckwith said he knew he’d stay upon receiving his draft grade and then draft projections, which ranked from mid-second round to third round.
“If I would have gotten a for-sure first- or second-rounder, probably would have made that move,” he said. “I know I’m not a third-rounder.”
DeSean Smith watched practice Tuesday with one of his knees wrapped as he continues to recover from an unknown knee operation and/or injury.
Smith is one of several players who were absent during the first two days of spring practice Monday and Tuesday. The Tigers were off Wednesday and will practice Thursday and Saturday.
At least four players have missed the first two practices for unknown reasons: QB Anthony Jennings, TE Foster Moreau, OL Jevonte Domond and OLB Corey Thompson. Miles said Monday that none of the players was absent because of disciplinary reasons. Academic problems are keeping a few out of spring, he said.
At least five players are recovering from injuries and aren’t expected to practice this spring: CB Kevin Toliver (shoulder), S John Battle, WR Travin Dural (hamstring), C Ethan Pocic (hip) and FB J.D. Moore (knee).
Moore was seen after practice Tuesday running and catching footballs as he recovers from a knee operation that forced him to miss the final three games of the regular season.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.