Earlier this month, LSU cornerback Tre’Davious White wrote an open letter to fans, expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to play football and receive an education at the university.
It may not come as a surprise that the sincere missive was well-received. White said numerous people contacted him to voice appreciation. Among those was LSU President F. King Alexander.
“(Alexander) was saying the LSU donors – the people that donate to the school, especially to the athletic program – how they feel like I’m one of the reasons why,” White said. “People like me, a story like me, (is) a reason why they’re excited about giving money.”
White, whose decorated collegiate career will come to end against Louisville in the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Eve, was among several key juniors from last season to return for their senior year. The team goal was to win a national championship. That quickly went awry.
White, as much as any draft-eligible junior, knew the money he was passing on as a projected early-round draft pick last year. In the letter, he explains he grew up in a “poverty stricken neighborhood that was full of violence” in the Cooper Road/Martin Luther King, Jr. area of North Shreveport. He valued his scholarship to LSU but his initial plan was to turn pro after three years. His mother and three siblings were on his mind.
"I've got every reason to get up every morning,” White said. “I don't want to go back to where I'm from."
But with a degree in sports administration so close, the Thorpe Award finalist was willing to do something that had rarely been done in his family: graduate from college.
Accepting his degree Friday night stands above all the other accolades that he’s garnered, including All-American and All-SEC honors and an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
“Best feeling in the world, man,” White said. That’s one of my goals, and I feel good that it all worked out in the right way.”
"I'm one of the first from my family to do that,” he added. “My mom cried. It's great to know you have a lot of people behind you."
White’s standout senior season hasn’t hurt his draft stock. Leading the Tigers with 13 pass breakups and tied for the team lead with two interceptions, he’s a projected first- to second-round selection, according to WalterFootball.com. But bolstering his draft value wasn’t one of his concerns when he decided to come back, he said.
“I wasn’t really worried about that,” White said. “I had a lot of goals that I wanted to accomplish when I came back. I wanted to be All-SEC, All-American. I wanted to win the Thorpe. I wanted to win a national championship. I wanted to graduate. I got most of those things that I wanted to do. I feel better as a person, mentally. Mentally, as a football player, I feel like I’m a smarter player, and I’m more NFL-ready now.”
White will put on the No. 18 LSU jersey, given to the player who represents the values the team holds highest, one more time in Orlando against the Cardinals. He’s hoping to close out the game and his career with a bang.
"I want to end it on a pick six,” White said.
LSU safety Jamal Adams has a goal for next year, and it has nothing to do with the NFL.
Dural “full go”
Travin Dural doesn’t want to miss his final game in a Tigers uniform in the Citrus Bowl. He needed to sit out the final game of the regular season to make sure that was possible.
“I’m back full go,” Dural said.
The senior wide receiver sustained a shoulder injury during the LSU’s 38-10 victory against Arkansas on Nov. 12. He sat out the entire week of practice the following week but suited up anyway in the home finale against Florida
He only made the injury worse in a 16-10 loss to the Gators, he said, forcing him to sit out the regular season finale against Texas A&M.
“It’s a feels great,” Dural said of his shoulder. “I wouldn’t want to miss my last game as a Tiger. Feels good to be here and practicing because the past couple of weeks, not being able to do anything, it was rough.”
Dural, who’s already accepted his invitation to the Senior Bowl, said he hasn’t thought much about his plans after the New Year’s Eve bowl game.
“I never really thought about it yet,” Dural said. “Just trying get my shoulder right and trying to get right for the bowl game, get this last win. I’m not trying to look ahead before my team here is done.”