Growing up in Baton Rouge, Bert White was like any other teenage boy aspiring to play college football.
He closely followed the two prominent programs in the city. And Bert and his father, Oscar, attended as many LSU and Southern games as they could.
“We used to go to all the games growing up,” the Northwestern State safety said this week. “Growing up in Baton Rouge, Southern and LSU are the main attractions.”
White and his Demons teammates welcome the Jaguars to Natchitoches at 6 p.m. Saturday. The former high school standout at Redemptorist recalled evenings spent watching Southern work on the practice field.
“One of my older sisters graduated from Southern, so I was always on campus,” he said. “I used to love going to watch them practice at night. It was a great experience for me growing up.”
After a strong junior season that yielded 59 tackles, White made the watch list for the 2014 Senior Bowl. He’s one of only 40 Football Championship Subdivision players on the 400-name list.
White was honored by the recognition but quick to point out he has much improvement ahead.
“It’s a great honor,” White said. “But I try to not put too much on that because I still have a lot of work to do. ... I think I can improve on everything.”
Coach Jay Thomas said White has “very good cover skills, and he’s obviously a very good tackler.” Thomas, a Baker native and former Nicholls State head coach, returned to Natchitoches this winter to take over the program. He was the Demons’ defensive line coach from 2010-11.
White said he is excited about the direction the defense has headed since Thomas’ arrival.
“Coach Thomas brought that swag back for us, that excitement level,” White said. “The entire staff that he brought over with him, it’s great to know when you’re out there on the field that the coaches have your back.”
Thomas has asked White to be more of a vocal leader for the defense. It doesn’t come naturally, but White is doing all he can to assume that type of leadership role.
“I’m trying to be more of a vocal leader,” he said. “I try to set a good example for the other guys.”
White tore the meniscus in his right knee in the offseason and missed Northwestern State’s opening victory against Missouri State last week. He hopes to return this weekend.
“We’re excited about potentially getting Bert back this week,” Thomas said. “He brings plenty of experience to our defense. He brings that (veteran) mentality to the back of our defense. Just having his presence back and his experience is going to help us out a lot.”
His potential return — to play against a team he once cheered for — couldn’t come at a better time.
“It’s going to be a very exciting game,” White said. “It’s a great group of guys that we’re facing. A lot of my family and friends from the Baton Rouge area are going to come up for the game. It’ll be real exciting to play in front of them.”