Today’s Topic: What Does Al Washington Look For In a Bullet?
This winter we told you there would be changes coming to the Ohio State defense, and one of those changes was the inclusion of a hybrid linebacker.
Greg Mattison and Al Washington utilized it at Michigan in the form of the “Viper,” which was manned by Jabrill Peppers and Khaleke Hudson over the last few years.
The position is not new, but everywhere has a different name for it. Under Jim Tressel, it was the “Star.” Others may call it the “Rover” or even “Moneybacker.”
Under Ryan Day, however, it is now known as the “Bullet.”
Linebackers coach Al Washington described the Bullet as a playmaking position and whoever ends up playing there will be put in a position to get involved with the football.
This spring, that position has mostly been manned by juniors Brendon White and Jahsen Wint. Both players are also splitting reps at safety, which is where they both played last year as well.
When the news first broke that the Buckeye defense was leaning this way, it was White’s name that was immediately attached to it because he was the most obvious fit for what the position requires.
“The origination of that position was that you take a safety who may not be as fast and then you plug him in at that position,” Washington explained. “But now, I feel like that guy, you think about it historically, that guy is a guy who can rush the passer. Not every safety can do that.
“He’s a guy who has to be able to play at the line of scrimmage and use his hands. Not every safety can do that. A guy has to be able to cover man, a slot. Not every linebacker can do that. It’s funny, high school is setting the trend. You’re seeing high schools use that guy, so you can recruit to that guy, I think, to a certain extent.”
White showed last season that he can defend the pass and the run. Based on his physical abilities, he should handle the move quite well this season. Being a new and unique position, however, the Buckeyes aren’t overly deep there, but that’s okay since it isn’t necessarily an every-down spot.
In order to build the depth down the road, it will come down to recruiting. Projecting Bullets isn’t easy, though.
How does Washington do it?
“Man, it’s hard to describe,” he said. “You see a guy, I’m just speaking for me, when I see a guy in high school, I see him on contact. You see him explode through contact or you see him get from point A to point B really fast. Just explosive. Twitchy. Nichey. In close quarters. Rangy. Just see a guy around the ball. Those types of things, but it is hard to put into one word.”