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Freshmen linebackers look to make quick impact

Photo courtesy Amos Morale III, | The Times-Picayune Photo courtesy Amos Morale III, | The Times-Picayune

Past recruiting classes, early departures and transfers have not been kind to LSU football at the linebacker position.

Fortunately for the Tigers, middle linebacker Kendell Beckwith decided to stick around for his senior season, and joining him this spring are a pair of studs from their 2016 recruiting class. John Ehret’s Michael Divinity and North Webster’s Devin White have a chance to make an immediate impact, not only because of their skill, but because of simple necessity following the departure of 2015 senior starters Lamar Louis and Deion Jones.

Divinity was always likely to step up sooner than later with his tremendous pass-rushing ability. However, it wasn’t clear which side of the ball White would make his first appearance on. Listed as one of the top athletes in the country, many considered him as a running back or linebacker because of his size and athleticism. But with LSU’s already crowded backfield featuring Leonard Fournette, Derrius Guice, Darrel Williams and Nick Brossette, it would make more sense for White to take his talents to the defense and new coordinator Dave Aranda.

“We voted,” says head coach Les Miles. “We talked about his skills. We talked about his lower body skills and his upper body skills, and we talked about his contact.”

What Miles said next gave us a bit of insight to the much-improved character of White, which, at one point in late 2015 following two arrests, was an issue.

“To be honest with you, he text me,” says Miles. “He said, ‘Maybe if I played linebacker, I could get on the field sooner.’ I said that might be true. What we did is we gave him an opportunity, and I think he’s doing a lot with it. It will be interesting to see how he goes from here.”

Along with White, Miles hopes Divinity and all of their early enrolled freshmen can adapt the college game quickly.

“We’re looking at those guys and kind of force feeding them and making sure they’re going to get plenty of time to run one-on-ones and plenty of time to improve,” says Miles. “I think you’ll look forward to seeing those guys improve at a rapid pace.”

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