Is Brendon White Now a Linebacker In Ohio State’s Newly-Hybridized Defense?

Ohio State football safety Brendon White

It has been speculated about, and if photos are to be believed, Ohio State has made the move to a defense with a hybrid linebacker and it is directly going to impact junior Brendon White.

Friday was Ohio State football’s annual “Harley Davidson workout” signifying the closing of winter workouts. Following the workout, each position group takes a photo together, including the strength coaches, as you can see here.

The Buckeye linebackers also took a photo and in that photo are Brendon White and Jahsen Wint, who both started games at safety last season.

White’s emergence last year finally solidified a safety position that was an issue for the majority of the season. White ended up starting five games last year for the Buckeyes, and was arguably their most productive player in the back seven over the final six games of the season.

Over that span, White put up 41 tackles, averaging nearly seven tackles per game.

But according to this photo, he may now be bringing his sure tackling to the hybrid spot made semi-famous by former Michigan Wolverine Jabrill Peppers. White is in the bottom right.

With defensive assistants Greg Mattison and Al Washington coming over from Michigan, the speculation began immediately as to what characteristics they would bring over with them. Mattison did say on signing day that the Buckeyes would have two inside linebackers and an outside linebacker “which is a different position.”

A source told The-Ozone back in January that the Buckeyes were looking to move towards this kind of defense, which falls in line with what Michigan has done in the recent past with defensive coordinator Don Brown. It is also similar to what OSU used to do with former Buckeyes Jermale Hines and Tyler Moeller at “Star”.

Brendon White was the first and most prominent name mentioned as a possibility to play what Michigan calls the “Viper.”

At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, he has the frame to add a little more weight if needed, and has already shown himself to be a very solid tackler.

For the Wolverines, the Viper has been a productive position at times.

In 2016, Jabrill Peppers (6-1 205) played Viper and ended up being named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year. He finished with 71 tackles, 15.0 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks. In 2017, Peppers was replaced by Khaleke Hudson (6-0 205), who put up even better numbers with 82 tackles, 18.0 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, and two interceptions.

Hudson’s numbers dropped off last season, however, as he tallied just 44 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 2.0 sacks.

The role would ask White to cover a ton of ground, but also make plays in the backfield via quick reads and some blitzes here and there.

Assuming this move is actually happening, it could be right up White’s alley given his size and skill set.

Moving him from safety, however, then creates a void where there didn’t used to be one.

Senior Jordan Fuller will be fine at one safety, but who plays next to him? There are names like Isaiah Pryor, Josh Proctor, Amir Riep, Marcus Hooker, and Shaun Wade. Wade started twice last season, including a game at safety, but it was Pryor who began the season next to Fuller before losing his job.

Wade came to Ohio State to be a cornerback, but he will play wherever he is asked.

In a perfect world, somebody other than Wade can win the job, thereby allowing him to move back to corner to help out Damon Arnette and Jeff Okudah.

Spring practice gets underway on Wednesday, March 6.

We will find out then if a picture is truly worth a thousand (or so) words.

13 Responses

  1. Who cares about where their team ranked and their strength of schedule. The reality is that MI finished with three losses including their last two games. MI had not played a top 30 pass O until OSU sliced and diced them. OSU lost one game and then won the B1G and the Rose Bowl. If you want to talk smack on this site, then you are not only arrogant, but not that bright.

  2. tOSU has done this in the past, to great success. Don’t know if any of you remember Jermale Hines, the kid who came to us as a HUGE safety and wound up being called a linebacker. He played the Viper back then but I’m pretty sure we called it the Leo position. Only reason we went away from it was wisely utilized talent. We had Shazier and Derron Lee who were more natural hybrid linebackers.
    I honestly think use of Brendon White or Shaun Wade at this hybrid LB/S position will open up the entire DB rotation as well as mask what it is we’re trying to do. I always wondered why every article about the DB’s centered around only CB’s being in nickel packages. We have some Safeties that could create all kinds of matchup issues as well. Why limit yourself to one scheme. Especially if it’s a stupid scheme. I absolutely love the potential for scheme-flexibility as well as coaches giving defensive players a bigger toolbox.

  3. Hey Don,
    2019 is a different year. Day got rid of the dead wood, Davis and Taver. I liked Schiano but his schemes did not work. Grinch left on his own, but he showed nothing other than he had an ego bigger than TOSU. Matteson, Washington, Hafley and Barnes bring a new attitude and scheme. Matteson has already told LJ he would assist him wherever needed. To have two of the best D Line coaches, if not the best two, in college football is unbelievable. Then there is Washington, he can coach any defensive position. Hafley was highly respected in the No Football League. Barnes is the wild card here. Putting the right players in the right players is key. I don’t agree with moving White to the Star as we need tacklers on the back end of the D, unless Wade steps in. That weakens the corner depth unless Tyreke Johnson and Banks step up. I could see Tuf as the middle guy with Harrison the other with White as the Star(we called it the Rover in high School). Or maybe Gantas the Rover with Tuf and Harrison inside. White back as safety. Personally I like Wade at corner instead of Arnette. Arnette should have gone pro.

  4. TTUN beat Florida in a bowl game with Meyer as Coach.

  5. My comment was meant for Tom Hadly as I agree with William Rueger. Not only that, being Coach Meyer’s last game against a team he’s never lost to and the fact that Haskins was on fire, ttun never had a chance regardless of their high position nationally on defense. In addition, ttun thought all they had to do was show up for the game and it was an easy win for them, but the final score could have been worse had Meyer not called off his first team.

  6. You should do a column on all the safeties and LBs that fit the size profile for the Star (our names are better than TTUN names) and who might have the skillsets to fill it best.

  7. Yeah, run Don Brown’s defense. They only gave up 62 in The Game and were beaten by every team with a heartbeat last season. WTF, why does Day want to be TTUN?

    1. Really? You are going to use one game as your argument? OK, I guess that one game is very importtant to us Buckeye fans, but you can’t ignore a season’s worth of data. i guess since Ohio State scored only 20 against Purdue, we don’t want their offense? For the entire 13 game season, INCLUDING the 62 given up to the Buckeyes, Don Brown’s total defense ranked 2nd in the country, and their strength of schedule was better than OSU’s,

    2. I think you need to rethink your statement. TTUN ended up 2nd in total defense last season. Where did the Buckeyes end up? Need I say more?

      1. Add to that, the “Star” position is actually a Big 12 type thing – both Iowa State and Texas run a defense similar defenses with that rover position. Most schools run it as their base alignment since it gives you the ability to defend both the run and pass without changing your personnel – a big issue with high speed offenses.

      2. Who cares Willy B, when was that when MI beat FL? Meyer’s overall record is elite. OSU during Urban’s tenure has beaten: OR, AL, WA, ND, TCU, OK, USC, including three B1G titles and a National Title, MI can’t even sniff any of that. When was the last time MI won any game of significance? What? Beat WI or PSU? What beat Air Force or MSU or whoever. Get a grip Dude.

      3. OSU ended up as Rose Bowl, B1G champs and ranked in the top 3. Remember, teams are ranked not their units. Need I say more? Are MI fans this desperate or just this far out of touch with reality?

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