NASHVILLE — Maybe it was the eight-hour flight delay at the Tampa airport. Or the connection Jack Marucci held between the two linebackers. Or the good feeling White had from meeting Bruce Arians for the first time.
One way or another, Devin White felt destined Thursday (April 25) to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
White, a Butkus Award winner as the top linebacker in college football last season, joined the Buccaneers as the No. 5 overall selection in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, making him the first linebacker selected by the team in the first round since Derrick Brooks went there in 1995.
Brooks played his entire 14-year NFL career with Tampa Bay and won a Super Bowl while there, and later went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Marucci, the LSU athletic trainer since 1997, saw Brooks play in college at Florida State when Marucci worked there from 1988 through 1996.
“He always told me how I reminded him of Derrick,” White said.
Marucci intended for White to speak with Brooks at some point after White decided in January to skip his senior season and begin his professional career, but for some reason or another, the phone call never happened.
But with White joining the team for which Brooks had his No. 55 retired, the player who wore No. 40 for LSU is eager for his first chance to speak with legendary linebacker “so I can pick his brain and get advice from him about how he became such a great pro.”
“At the end of the day, I want to help my team,” White said. “With him being a great Buc, I know he wants to help us win.”
White met with the Buccaneers while at the NFL Scouting Combine in February and had dinner with team officials the night before the LSU Pro Day in March. He also visited the team facility sometime after that, where he said all the conversation there was all about getting to know each other more as people and not just as football coaches and players.
White felt a spark from the moment he first met Arians, the team’s first-year head coach, because “you know he knows the game of football,” White said. “You know he knows when he’s around a great player. That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited, because I want to be a great pro.”
At some point, Arians, who previously coached the Arizona Cardinals, told White the team would definitely select him if he was still on the board at No. 5 overall.
“I knew I was in play with the Raiders at (No. 4 overall), but coach Bruce told me if I was on the board at five he was going to take me,” White said. “That was my most-kept secret from the media. I just never knew if the Raiders were going to take me or not.”
White going to the Buccaneers was where most mock drafts had him targeted, with many analysts saying he would likely go no later than No. 10 to the Denver Broncos. White is the fourth linebacker selected in the top-5 in the last 10 years, and he’s the 10th LSU player selected in the top 10 since 2007.
Still on the draft board is former LSU cornerback Greedy Williams, who attended the draft with a large group of family and friends so they could get the full draft experience. He’ll likely be selected Friday during the second and third rounds. Tight end Foster Moreau and kicker Cole Tracy also are likely to be selected before long.
When White visited the Buccaneers, he sat through an eight or nine hour flight delay in Tampa before he flew to New York to do some stuff with ESPN and also meet with the Giants, who came into the draft with the No. 6 and 17 overall picks in the first round.
During that delay, White said he took it as a sign from God that maybe Tampa Bay was “where I need to be.” Now, Tampa is where he actually belongs. It’s the feeling he had all along.