Brendon White emerged last season at safety for the Buckeyes, but now he’s looking at a new home, and an even bigger impact this season.
As a sophomore in 2018, White spent most of the season coming off of the bench. He ended up starting the final five games of the season, however, and produced 41 of his 46 tackles over OSU’s final six games. White finished fifth on the team in tackles.
His performance down the stretch finally settled a safety battle that had been waged over the first nine games last year. He seemingly settled into a starting safety position for the Buckeyes that would carry on into 2019 as well.
And then Ohio State head coach Ryan Day went out and hired a brand new defensive staff and it was determined that they would employ a new hybrid linebacker/safety.
They called it the “Bullet.”
It’s the same playmaking position that earned former Michigan Wolverine Jabrill Peppers the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2016.
The position requires White to be a linebacker at times, then a safety at other times, and sometimes both on the same snap.
After finally finding a home last season, you might think that White would have been a bit upset to find out that he would be moving around this season.
Of course, you’d be wrong.
“I was excited just because I’m doing what’s best for my teammates,” White said this spring. “If the coaches think that putting me in this position is going to help the team win, because at the end of the day, I’ve got to be a team player.”
Spring ball was a learning experience for White, who would play a linebacker role on one snap, and then drop back and be a safety on the next snap.
While it may look seamless, it takes hours and hours of practice and preparation to get there.
But even while he was in the middle of the teaching process, White was already seeing the potential of his new role.
“I like it a lot,” he said. “It’s a versatile position. So I can play the safety spot and I can come down and play the run with the ‘backers. I’m trying right now to do anything I can to just learn the position as fast as possible to try to help the team out to win.”
And when he finally does master the position to the level that is needed, he sees himself making an impact in a number of ways, including where the Buckeyes have struggled the last few years.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” he said. “For me personally, being able to guard the tight ends, which I’m better at, I can definitely see myself helping that if they have an athletic tight end, instead of having a Sam ‘backer out there, having a Bullet out there will definitely help that.”
Brendon White spent the first half of last season trying to get on the field. He didn’t get his first real chance to shine until Jordan Fuller was ejected against Nebraska and White had to step in. He ended up finishing with a team-high 13 tackles against the Huskers. White has been in the starting lineup ever since.
Now, however, he is at a new position. At least sometimes.
While there may be some unknowns about where the Bullet will line up on any given play, White likes the fact that he knows that he actually has a position to play.
“It’s definitely relaxing,” he said. “At the same time, it allows me to put more focus on that position now that I know what I’m going to be playing. Being able to dive into that and learn, that will help me and my teammates.”
Nine months ago, White had a problem getting on the field.
This winter, his coaches saw him as a solution, and essentially went ahead with incorporating the Bullet because they believed he was perfect for it.
“It’s a dream come true,” White said. “Hard work definitely pays off. But I still have to have that chip on my shoulder because anyone can take that Bullet spot. Jahsen Wint’s right behind me doing that spot as well. So I’ve got to go out every day acting like it’s my last day of practice so I can keep that position.”