And that has left a very big chip on a good player’s shoulder, something that should only help the Eagles this season.
Despite piling up a team-high 144 tackles with two interceptions for the Chargers last season and grading out as the 14th best coverage LB in football, according to Pro Football Focus, White was allowed to walk by L.A. despite a tepid market that had White defaulting to “home” with a one-year, $3 million prove-it deal from the Eagles.
White has been as advertised, a high IQ player who is effective in coverage after the move from college safety/rover at West Virginia to NFL linebacker.
Jonathan Gannon has often talked about the football intelligence of his projected starters at LB, White and MIKE LB T.J. Edwards, as well as rookie Nakobe Dean.
“That’ big as far as coming out here and knowing what your doing,” White said. “… For coaches to have confidence in knowing what you’re doing that’s really big.”
White was able to show off how his intelligence as a player meshes with his defensive back-like athleticism Thursday at Miami’s Baptist Health Training Complex. The veteran saw Boston Scott shift in the backfield, indicating run, and was able to race through the gap to stop the powerful Scott for a negligible gain.
“I watch a good amount of film,” said White. “What works for me is not overdoing anything. I look at the playbook and study, take a lot of notes, and meet extra times with my coach [Nick Rallis]. I ask a lot of questions, maybe too many at times, but I feel like you have to go through it using trial and error, coming out here to practice, going through the bumps and bruises, making mistakes but learning from it, coming back the next day trying to master everything.”
By all accounts, White should have already gotten a heftier contract but his reputation of an undersized tweener is still outweighing his actual production on the field. Putting together another top-10 LB season would almost surely have to open some eyes.
“I feel like I did everything I needed to do last year,” a frustrated White said. “I had a great year. If you look at the numbers and turn on the film, I could not have done anything different that would have changed my situation. The Chargers didn’t value me and I thought I had a good enough year.”
Ironically, Chargers coach Brandon Staley has spoken very highly of White at every turn and is extremely close to Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, something White didn’t realize until he got to Philadelphia.
“It’s a business. Things happen, but I won’t cry about it,” said White. “The Chargers gave me the opportunity to make my dreams come true when they drafted me. I have nothing but good things to say about them. I just look in the mirror and say, ‘Get better so that this does not ever happen again.’”
Saying “prove it” to White is nothing new.
“I’ve been in this situation before, when I went to junior college, and I’ve been in this situation before when I was at West Virginia,” he explained. “When I had a so-so junior year, I had one year to make something happen, and I was coming off a broken foot. I know what pressure feels like. I’m going to come out here and do what I do best.”