There’s a new 12th Man in Aggieland.
On Aug. 20, Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher named junior linebacker Braden White to fill the role. White said the announcement came as a surprise to him.
“It was a surreal moment,” White said. “It seemed like a normal day, just getting ready for practice, meetings, everything. No one really knew when the announcement was coming.”
Those feelings of normalcy ended toward the end of Fisher’s morning talk.
“Coach Fisher came in and went through his everyday spiel getting us ready to go out for practice,” White said. “Then he goes, ‘There’s one more thing we need to handle. Once in a while we name someone the 12th Man so we’re going to go ahead and take care of that.’ That’s when he named me.”
Fisher said while the selection process was difficult, White emerged a clear choice for 12th Man.
“I never saw a day off [from White],” Fisher said. “I never saw anything taken for granted. He exemplified everything the 12th Man stands for in how he approaches things personally, academically, athletically, teamwise, leadership wise.”
White said he had gone through his daily routine of gathering his practice gear prior to the meeting, putting his No. 58 jersey on his shoulder pads. When he went out to practice, though, something was different.
“I went to get my pads for practice [after the announcement] and I didn’t really think anything of it,” White said. “I got to the field and I started to put them on and I realized they switched [my jersey] out and put No. 12 on there.”
White is taking over the position from Cullen Gillaspia, who was drafted by his hometown Houston Texans in April after three years as the 12th Man. White and Gillaspia have a relationship that goes back to 2016 when Gillaspia was first selected to be the 12th Man.
“We were in the same room, linebackers,” White said. “I was actually a couple seats down from him when he was named the 12th Man that year.”
White was an obvious choice to take over the role, Gillaspia said.
"I couldn't be happier for Braden White," Gillaspia told 12thman.com’s Charean Williams. "He's a good kid. Where he is today, with being honored by getting to wear the No. 12, it's a credit to the work ethic he's had over the past three years."
Gillaspia may have set records as the 12th Man, becoming the only one in school history to score a touchdown, but White is also bringing something different to the role. He grew up outside of the Lone Star State in Alabama.
“Coming from Alabama, I didn’t really know a lot about A&M, but now that I’ve lived here and been with my team and learned these traditions, it means the world to me,” White said.
While he wasn’t familiar with A&M prior to coming to campus, White does have an Aggie connection as his dad played football with former A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis at the University of Tennessee.
Despite the excitement that comes with the new role, there was a small downside. White said the news of his promotion spread so fast that he was not the first to inform his dad.
“[My dad] was in a meeting and one of my high school coaches texted my dad [about me being the 12th Man],” White said. “When I called him after practice, he already knew.”
White said he is excited to officially start his new role with the team when the Aggies kick off the season against Texas State on Thursday.
“The past couple of days have been kind of overwhelming,” White said. “A lot of it is just now hitting me. I’m excited. I can’t wait to go out there with my teammates.”