Dubbed the “Snow Bowl” between the Eagles and Lions, a high-school age Kyzir White attended his first NFL game in December 2013. After he witnessed the Eagles finesse a double-digit comeback victory in a blizzard-filled slugfest, White departed Lincoln Financial Field feeling inspired to one day suit up for the home team.
More than eight years later, White, who grew up in the Lehigh Valley and attended Emmaus High School, will finally fulfill that dream. The team’s newest linebacker was formally introduced Tuesday afternoon at the NovaCare Complex.
“I used to be at the training camps all the time back when Mike Vick, DeSean Jackson, Shady McCoy played,” White recalled. “Me and my brothers used to be up there front and center. That [2013 game vs. the Lions] made me want to play for the Eagles.
“To be here ... it’s crazy how life comes full circle. I’m blessed to be here.”
White is expected to start immediately. He possesses hybrid traits as a former safety at West Virginia, who was converted into an off-ball linebacker after the Chargers selected him in the fourth round of the 2018 draft. His versatility will serve as a chess piece for defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, who has asked his players to appear in multiple roles and spots.
“I would’ve never imagined I’d be a linebacker,” White said. “But as I progressed and went through college, I was getting bigger and I knew coming out, a lot of teams were throwing the linebacker thing at me. It helped me being a safety previously, athleticism-wise. I feel like I play the ball good, man coverage on tight ends. That safety background definitely makes it easier for me as a linebacker.”
White describes himself as a “relentless player” who “plays with a lot of passion, heart, and soul.”
“I ain’t the biggest, strongest, or fastest,” he said. “But I feel like I play with a lot of heart and toughness and grit. That’s everything Philadelphia is made of.”
White, 26, is coming off the best season of his career. He started all 17 regular-season games for the Chargers, finishing with 144 tackles, which ranked eighth most in the NFL, and two interceptions. He wasn’t perfect in pass coverage, but White’s hybrid-ability and willingness should serve as an upgrade over the departed Alex Singleton.
“What I like the most [about playing in pass coverage], is it’s mano a mano. Me vs. you,” White said. “Whoever the better player is going to win the matchup. I feel confident going against tight ends.”
Besides White, the Eagles also have linebackers T.J. Edwards, Davion Taylor, Patrick Johnson, Shaun Bradley, JaCoby Stevens, Christian Elliss, and Joe Ostman on the roster. Newly acquired edge rusher Haason Reddick is also listed as a linebacker on the team’s website.
Since joining the Eagles at the end of March, White has been in communication with several teammates, including team captain Brandon Graham.
“Philly has a great fan base here,” White said. “It’s a great team. I’m from an hour up the road. I’ve got my family here with me. This is the hometown team. BG was telling me he’s been in the league for 12, 13 years. That’s a guy I want to definitely learn from. He’s been around this thing for a long time playing at a very high level.”
The addition of White has been widely considered as a positive signing, which addressed a glaring need. That White only signed a one-year deal with $3 million in guaranteed salary could be an indication the Eagles are still open to selecting a linebacker in the early rounds of this month’s NFL draft. The team currently possesses 10 picks, including two first rounders at Nos. 15 and 18.
White views the upcoming season as an opportunity to improve his own stock. The one-year deal provides flexibility — and if White produces another solid season, he could reset his own market heading into free agency next offseason. He also pointed out how he’s open to signing a long-term extension with the Eagles.
“I had some opportunities to go to different spots, but ultimately, I wanted to be right here in Philadelphia,” White said. “I wanted to be patient.”
With several of his family members seated in the back rows of the media auditorium, White concluded: “I’d love to be here for the rest of my career. This is where I want to be. It’s a one-year deal — I’m betting on myself.
“I just have to prove it again.”