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New England Sophomore Keion White Has Old-School Attitude



New England Patriots defensive end Keion White

The New England Patriots selected Keion White in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Although the defensive lineman is still relatively new to professional football, he has an old-school attitude, making it easy to see why Bill Belichick liked him enough as a prospect to use the No. 46 overall selection in last year’s draft on the Georgia Tech product.

JuJu Smith-Schuster was among Patriots players lauding the “locker room vibes” in New England this season, but Keion White seems far less interested in such things. Although he began answering what changed similarly to Smith-Schuster, White’s answer then took a quick turn.

“We don’t have Bill (Belichick) cursing us out every play anymore, but it’s still pretty similar,” noted White about the atmosphere at Patriots OTAs. He then expanded on this thought.

“I miss it. I like Bill (Belichick)”, said White. “He’s my type of coach, like a hard-ss. I like that, I respond well to things like that.”

White responded in his rookie season by suiting up for 16 games. He finished with 26 tackles (12 solo), three tackles for loss, and five quarterback hits. It was a solid introduction to the NFL, though the Patriots will look for even more out of him in 2024.

Praise for the new Head Coach

Despite White’s fondness for Bill Belichick, he still appreciates what new head coach Jerod Mayo brings.

“(Jerod) Mayo’s doing a really good job staying true to himself,” noted White. “Not trying to fill somebody else’s shoes but create his own path, and I really respect that.”

Most importantly, the new coach hasn’t set off Keion White’s b.s. detector.

“I can respond to any coaching style as long as you’re genuine in who you are,” explained White. “So if you’re like a friendly coach and try to be a hard-ss, I’m going to see through that and challenge the b-llsh-t. And if you’re a hard-ss coach and trying to be super friendly, because you’re trying to cater to certain players, I’m going to see through that.”

White concluded, “I’d much rather you be yourself and be true to that, and that’s what Mayo’s doing.”

Familiar Feeling

White was asked if things had changed on the defensive side of the ball in OTAs. He seemed happy with his familiarity with key members of the coaching staff.

“DC (defensive coordinator DeMarcus Covington) and (Jerod) Mayo worked closely together last year. I was coached by DC last year on the d-line. I feel like it’s pretty similar,” said White. “Mayo’s still doing a pretty good job of talking with the defense, more so leaning defense, and stick to what he knows.”

As for him former position coach turned coordinator, White had high praise for Covington.

“Really knowledgable, analytical with his background. How he came up in the program,” stated White. “Really knows the ins and outs of what offenses are trying to do, which makes him a better play caller and coach.”

While the offesnive coaching staff has had a complete overhaul, White was happy the same was not true of the defensive staff.

“We’re in a blessed situation defensively,” said White. “New in a sense of new position (for coaches) but not new to us. We have new defensive line coaches like Jerry (Montgomery) and Drew (Wilkins). But they’re still doing a good job of taking what they had with their old programs (and) bringing it to us, but still fitting in with the Patriot Way, the Patriots system.”

Not a Rookie Anymore

Asked about what has changed for him entering his second season on the team, White responded without hesitation.

“I ain’t got to get no snacks anymore for the vets, so that’s smooth,” he replied before turning to the more important part of his job. “Football-wise, you just know more. I feel like when you come in as a rookie it’s a thousand parts moving all at once. We were blessed to have (Jerod) Mayo be promoted to head coach, so there’s a lot of carryover from the last coaching staff. So, as the game slows down you can see more, you can react more, you can be a lot more of a dominant player.”

New England hopes to see White be a dominant player for many seasons in Foxboro. He was asked where he was most comfortable, standing up or hand in the dirt on defense.

“I see myself as a d-lineman,” replied White. “Wherever I can play on that line. Whether it be outside, 3-tech, nose, defensive end, Imma play it all.”

In other words, Keion White is just an old-school football player ready to play ball for whoever his coach happens to be. He’s not interested in niceties or b.s. Fortunately for the New England Patriots, he seems very interested in playing defensive line and getting ready to dominate his sophomore season in the NFL.

Award-winning blogger, Dan's work has also been featured on Fox Sports, Boston Metro, Barstool Sports,, and many other outlets.

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