What’s in a number? When I think of the number 18 a lot of things come to my mind. Legality is the first one. 18 is thought of as being “barely legal,” but it usually means that you can actually buy cigarettes and lottery tickets as well as no longer being considered a kid in the eyes of adults, mainly your parents.
For LSU football players, the number 18 means much, much more. The number 18 has become synonymous with not only success, but leadership and determination as well. If you are so lucky as to have the number bestowed upon you at LSU, you are expected to lead the Tigers in such a way that no one else could ever doubt you deserved the number.
The tradition began in 2003. Matt Mauck led the Tigers to the BCS National Championship in a remarkable season. The Tigers went 13-1 and won the SEC Championship over Georgia 34-13. They turned their eyes to the national championship, which they won over Oklahoma 21-14. Mauck wore the number 18 and upon his departure from the team, he left the jersey to incoming freshman fullback Jacob Hester.
It wasn’t until the 2007 season that the number 18 once again became a staple in the LSU football program. Prior to that season, Hester, who was a senior, was voted team captain, so he knew he had to live up to his team’s expectations, and boy, did he.
During the Tigers’ 2007 national championship run, Hester was the team’s starting running back and rushed for 1,103 yards and twelve touchdowns. While that might not seem like a lot, LSU fans will tell you different simply because the Tigers had a five-man rotation at the tailback position with Charles Scott, Keiland Williams, Richard Murphy, and Trindon Holliday all splitting time during the season.
Another stat about Hester that people don’t really know much about is that he went over 400 rushing attempts without a fumble. Twice in that season Hester was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week and was once the Sporting News National Player of the Week.
This was the year that the number 18 became forever associated with success with the LSU Tigers.
Over the next seven seasons, six different players have been given the honor of wearing number 18 for the Tigers. Tight end Richard Dickson wore the number in 2008 and 2009, running back Richard Murphy in 2010, safety Brandon Taylor in 2011, defensive lineman Bennie Logan in 2012, linebacker Lamin Barrow in 2013 and Terrence Magee last season.
LSU players voted late Wednesday night for who would be wearing the heralded number for the 2015 season and the fourth defensive player in five seasons was bestowed with the honor.
LSU cornerback Tre’Davious White will continue the number 18 tradition for the Tigers in 2015. The number was awarded last night in a big ceremony that was obviously pretty emotional for the upcoming junior.
Since he took his position in the Tigers’ secondary during his true freshman season, White has played started the past twenty-four games at corner for the Tigers. White has also served as the team’s primary punt returner. Last season, he recorded thirty-three tackles and five pass deflections with two interceptions.
This was key in helping the Tigers be ranked number one in the SEC in total defense and passing defense last season. They were the only team in the SEC to hold teams under 200 total completions.
White also returned punts for 237 yards with a sixty-seven yard punt return touchdown against Kentucky.
The junior cornerback is certainly taking steps towards being the leader the Tigers hope he can be. The legacy of the number 18 lives on through White. I know he will do the number justice.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports