MSU's White returns to middle linebacker
MSU linebacker Chris White leads the defense with 17 tackles. (Photo submitted by MSU)
Mississippi State senior linebacker Chris White is glad to be once again the man in the middle of a defense.
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During his freshman year at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, White played middle linebacker to help the team to the junior college national championship.
White was asked to play outside linebacker in his first season at MSU.
With the departure of Jamar Chaney to the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League, it enabled White to shift back to middle linebacker for the Bulldogs last spring.
"I was happy with the move back," White said. "I just feel more comfortable there and I'm just trying to make plays. It's coming pretty natural for me to play the middle. Pretty much all I'm doing this year as compared to last year is calling the plays.
"I'm trying to do the best I can and with the mindset of trying to play to the best of my ability and not hold nothing back."
The move to the middle has worked out well for White and MSU in the first two games of the season.
White leads the Bulldogs with 17 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss.
Those totals have White in the top seven of the Southeastern Conference in both categories.
"Chris has been outstanding," MSU defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. "You cut him open and football comes out of him. In any sport defensively, you've got to be strong up the middle whether it's baseball or whatever and I think Chris has found a home at middle linebacker and he's been really good."
Diaz is the second coordinator for White in as many seasons on the Division I level and he seems to have adjusted well.
White hasn't missed a beat for the Bulldogs after registering 75 tackles last season.
MSU offensive tackle Derek Sherrod is happy to have White on his side.
"It's pretty tough to block Chris White," Sherrod admitted. "He's a great leader for this team and a vital part for us. To be able to command the defense at middle linebacker, he's done a great job so far. Going against him in practice is only making our offense better."
Sherrod isn't the only Bulldog who appreciates White's leadership.
"From day one, he's worked hard in our Champions program and goes about everything the right way," MSU coach Dan Mullen said. "He shows great leadership by example. When you work as hard as he does, it lets the other players know that 'hey, if I work as hard as him, I might have some success.'"
That's something that was passed on to White from Chaney.
"Jamar is a real hard worker," White said. "The things he taught me were how to work hard, prepare every week, watch film and try to learn what the offense is doing before they do it."
The Bulldogs have a veteran presence at linebacker, not only with White, but also outside linebacker K.J. Wright.
White played at Vancleave High School in south Mississippi so MSU's road game at LSU on Saturday will be followed with some interest in his home community. White expects about nine family members to attend the 6 p.m. kickoff in Baton Rouge, La.
White hopes the Bulldogs give his family plenty to watch.
"We've played pretty well the first two games, but we've got to keep getting better," White said. "We probably shouldn't have let either team score any points really. Hopefully, we'll go to Baton Rouge this week and play even better."