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Evaluating Kyzir White's Emergence with LBs Coach Michael Wilhoite
Wilhoite details how the scheme and White’s physicality were the perfect match, why he’s encouraged about Kenneth Murray moving forward, and more.
By Hayley Elwood Feb 24, 2022

2021 is in the rearview and 2022's offseason is here.

With that being said, we thought this would be a good time to check in with some people we don't hear from often: the Chargers position coaches.

A Conversation with the Chargers Position Coaches

We conclude with LBs coach Michael Wilhoite.

Wilhoite details how the scheme and Kyzir White's physicality were the perfect match in 2021, why he's encouraged about Kenneth Murray moving forward, and more.

We'll break down some of the players you specifically worked with, but overall, how would you assess the linebacker group last year?

Michael Wilhoite: I thought they were great. It's a very good group, very disciplined. Great energy and very active and very eager to learn. When you have all of those things, and when you have guys who play hard, you can't go wrong. All you can do is get better and that's on my part to be better and help them get better.

Let's start with breaking down Kyzir White's year. So many guys on this team had breakout seasons, but he surprised so many of us.

What was the goal with him heading into 2021?

Wilhoite: I think the goal with him was the same as with anybody in the room, it was just getting the best out of them. And, to get them to play to their potential every time they stepped on the field, whether that took the mental energy and mental stamina or whether that took making it simple for them so they could play fast physically.

I thought that we kept it simple for him and he was able to communicate with me what he needed and what he didn't need each week – I think we got a good feel for each other, and I understood where he wanted to go and what he needed to hear and what he didn't need to hear. I thought he played really well, and I think there's more in the tank.  I think he can get better as he plays more snaps at the position. He's a great young man. Our group was eager in every way to do the right thing at all times, and he was the ringleader for all of that.


144 total tackles | Career-high | Most single season tackles in Chargers history since 2005

When you talk about breaking things down for him and being able to tap in to more of him as the scheme becomes more familiar, why was this scheme such a good fit and what does the future look like for him?

Wilhoite: The way he plays his game, it's very conducive to our system. He does a great job of playing square, striking people; he's very explosive, he uses his hands well. He does a good job of leading and being a general and being in front of that defense, he has to be able to do that. That's something he worked on hard and diligently and was able to improve on.

As soon as I saw him, I knew this guy fit our system so well. He has a great feel for the game; finishes well on the ball, plays hard, and does the little and simple things that make you a good football player. He had all those things and that just leads him into year two the same way it led him into year one. I think you can see him take off and become an elite linebacker in the NFL.

How would you describe last season for Kenneth Murray?

Wilhoite: I think it was unexpected and I'm thinking of what he would say in his mind. But I'm not discouraged, I'm encouraged. I think when you have a person like him who is willing to do anything and everything to be great, who is gonna ask all the right questions and as a young man still learning, I think the sky's the limit for him.

I think that we can't expect everybody to learn and play at the same level at the same time. We have to be able to let him mature and grow within the game of football and become who we know he will be and understand that.

I know last season for him had a lot of challenges both physically with his own injury and at times, filling in at different roles for guys who were out.

General manager Tom Telesco said that he really views Kenneth as an inside linebacker, is that were you see him best?

Wilhoite: I do. I think he does have the capabilities to play on the edge and play inside and be a good player at both. I think it's just a matter of getting him the reps and snaps at both, getting him the experience to go out there and feel comfortable doing both and have confidence in that. I think once we do that, he'll be fine.


"It's a very good group, very disciplined. Great energy and very active and very eager to learn. When you have all of those things, and when you have guys who play hard, you can’t go wrong. All you can do is get better and that’s on my part to be better and help them get better."

What does Drue Tranquill bring to this group?

Wilhoite: Energy, lots of energy. Toughness. Those are the two things that jump in my mind right away that you can't replace. He plays hard though the whistle every play. He does it in practice, he does it in a game. He plays physical. I'm a huge fan of the person he is and the way he tries and the way he plays his game. 

He brings a lot to the room in the sense of he keeps guys going, he's a good leader in the sense that he talks to everybody and does a good job checking in with the guys. Even this offseason, just checking in here and there making sure everybody's good and I think that's something you can't minimize.

And then lastly, two rookies you worked with last year: Nick Niemann and Amen Ogbongbemiga. One was drafted, the other, undrafted.

What did you see out of those guys?

Wilhoite: First and foremost, good people. Eager to learn, eager to work, eager to find work, eager to find ways to get better. Both guys are tough. Both guys are athletic, very smart. One guy has a really good feel for the game and one guy is getting there. One guy has great length and speed and athleticism and another guy has great [vision.] 

Them together is a great group and I think as they both go [further in their careers], the sky's the limit for them. I think they both can get a lot better. I think they played well this year, better than I think anybody had ever expected, and I think they're only gonna get better as they go.

Take a look at the best photos from the Chargers 2021 campaign through the lens of team photographer, Mike Nowak, manager of photography, Ty Nowell, and gameday photographer, Travis Ellison.

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