Last Sunday, it took Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie inside linebacker Devin White just over 10 seconds to dash 91 yards for the longest fumble-return touchdown in franchise history. As that signature play indicated, White absolutely sprinted to the finish line in his rookie season.
On Thursday, White was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month in December for his exploits over the final four games of the season. His December exploits included 22 tackles, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries, which he returned for a total of 107 yards, much of it on the big play against Atlanta in Week 17.
White was defending that award, as he was also the league's Defensive Rookie of the Month in November. Essentially, the fifth-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of LSU has been the league's most productive rookie defender since midseason. White was slowed during the first half of the season by a Week Two knee injury that cost him a month but his furious finish put him atop the league's rookie rankings in tackles per game (7.0) and fumble recoveries (four). He is the first NFL rookie since at least 1970 to score twice on fumble returns in the same season.
White is the first Buccaneer to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month awards in consecutive months or even twice in the same season. Running back Cadillac Williams was named the Offensive Rookie of the Month in September and December of the 2005 season. White is the first Buccaneer ever to win the defensive award twice in the same season. Noah Spence took that honor in November of 2016 and Lavonte David won it in November of 2012.
White is the first player to win the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month award in consecutive months since Houston's Brian Cushing in the last two months of the 2009 season.
White's three fumble recoveries led all NFL players, not just rookies, over the past four weeks. His touchdown against the Falcons was the seventh-longest of any variety in franchise history.