Under the Helmet: Kyzir White

Updated: Feb 2

Linebacker Kyzir White stormed into the NFL by intercepting Josh Allen in a thrilling 20-31 win for the Los Angeles Chargers over the Buffalo Bills. But just three weeks into his NFL career, his season would come to an abrupt end with a knee injury.

Selected by the Los Angeles Chargers in the 4th round of the 2018 draft, White looked full of potential. He was a monster when on the field, but the path back from injury was fraught with adversity. How he would play on his return would set the tone for his reputation. But he wouldn't do it alone.

Kyzir in 2018 (Rick Scuteri/Associated Press)

One of seven siblings, Kyzir found solace in his eldest brother, Kevin, then a wide receiver with the Chicago Bears. “Just keep fighting and don’t give up” Kevin assured him. Kyzir returned the following year and managed to increase his workload. By the end of the 2020 season, Kyzir White had managed 77 tackles, despite injuring his hamstring in the process. His dedication was now unconcealed.

Over the first three years of his NFL career, Kevin suffered three season-ending injuries. Seeing negativity towards Kevin erupt on social media seemed to fire Kyzir up. "God gives his toughest battles to his toughest soldiers.. he's putting you through this for a reason.. just keep going, don't listen to the outside noise" he told his older brother during these tough times.

Kevin was one of the first people Kyzir went to when it was his turn to face challenging situations as an athlete. Having both been in similar circumstances and leaning on each other for support, one can imagine no better advisor. "He could definitely relate to what I was going through last year.. he was a big help for me" Kyzir said of his older brother.

Of returning to play on the field, Kyzir said “it means everything to me” and that he’s trying to “take full advantage” of his dream of playing in the NFL coming true. He appeared determined to come back stronger, and not let his dream culminate in disappointment.

Speaking before the 2021 season, Kyzir reflected that in years past he was “overthinking some things” which made him “play a little slower." Going out there with a relaxed mind would improve his game, he told reporters. Its fine to say it, but could he actualize it?

Kyzir makes a grand entrance against the New York Giants (Mike Nowak/Los Angeles Chargers)

Kyzir reached 106 tackles in Week 14 versus the New York Giants, hitting the century mark for the first time in his career. “It means a lot” Kyzir said of the achievement, his commitment now crystal clear.

By season‘s end, Kyzir White accumulated 144 total tackles, almost double his previous year. 90 of those tackles were solo. It would be an accomplishment no Charger had approached since 2005.

Looking back on his college days, Kyzir said that playing his former position of safety helps his game at linebacker. But despite his successes he still wants to “keep getting better” and keep helping his team win games.

If you are looking for one of Kyzir’s best plays of this season, look no further than his week 6 performance against the Baltimore ravens. He snatched two interceptions, one of which he returned for 22 yards. Securing 8 tackles, it was one of his most productive games of his young career.

Kyzir's interception return against the Baltimore Ravens (Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Chargers)

The Chargers as a whole played one of their worst games of the season against the Baltimore Ravens, losing 34-6. Despite the team’s lackluster showing, Kyzir was not fazed by the adversity of his team’s offense struggling to add any points to the board, playing with heart throughout.

White set another milestone alongside Safety Derwin James, being the first pair of Chargers teammates to both achieve 100 tackles in a season since Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison in 2000. He is “grateful” he and James were able to hit the mark together but they have “other milestones to hit and other things to accomplish as a team” Kyzir told the press.

From what we can observe, it appears Kyzir has been on a mission to prove to himself, his team and the rest of the NFL that he can overcome any adversity thrown his way. In four short seasons he has made light work of it. Playing with an aggression and efficiency that caught many eyes this season, Kyzir is on course to becoming a household name.

Ka'Raun White, left, Kevin White, center, Kyzir White, right (photo courtesy of West Virginia WVU)

In the corporate world, the youngest siblings are likely to “reinvent a company entirely, rather than simply reforming or improving it” Jeffrey Kluger, author of The Sibling Effect once said. This appears the case with Kyzir, youngest of the three athletic brothers, reinventing the expectation of the Chargers defense, rather than improving it.