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Freshman Jack-of-All-Trades Brendon White on the Move Again?
By Tony Gerdeman
Brendon White spent the spring at wide receiver
Photo by Dan Harker

It appears as though Brendon White is on the move again. A true freshman who enrolled early this past winter, White came to Ohio State as an athlete. Even before he was enrolled, he was already on the practice field as a linebacker. Once the Buckeyes lost wide receiver Noah Brown to the NFL Draft, White was asked to move to receiver, which is where he spent the entirety of spring camp.

On Wednesday, however, White tweeted out the hashtag #BIA, which is shorthand for "Best in America", which is the name the Ohio State secondary adopted last season. White also changed his profile to "Safety @ The Ohio State University." He wore the No. 80 during the spring, but that will obviously change.

Back in the winter, White talked about his prospects for the Buckeyes and understood that things might be a little nomadic early on.

"Right now I don’t really know, I have two numbers for offense and defense," he said on signing day. "So right now I’m just working out and working hard and they’ll put me where it best fits me so I can be successful. I’m just going to work on the one in winter workouts, and then once spring football comes I’ll have it.

"When I first got here, Coach Meyer brought me in his office and was like, ‘Right now we’re down, Noah Brown left.’ That was a shock to him so he said he was going to try me at receiver. And I was super excited, but at the end of the day I’m just trying to get on the field."

As to what number he'll be wearing on defense, White said in February that he wanted either 9 or 21. Unfortunately for him, those numbers are no longer available. Defensive tackle Jashon Cornell is the owner of the No. 9 jersey, and fellow freshman #BIA member Marcus Williamson is in the No. 21. Had White not taken a detour through Zone 6, then perhaps he could have hit on 21. As it stands now, however, he's going to have to find a new number to get attached to.

In the winter, he wore No. 10, but that is now occupied by freshman cornerback Amir Riep. He could always end up going with a number that is familiar to his family and wear No. 37, as his father William White did when he played for the Buckeyes 30 years ago.

Of course, when it comes to his father, Brendon is focused on more important footsteps than a jersey number.

"The only thing I want to take from my dad coming here is that he was a captain, so I’m trying to be a captain," he said this winter. "He was also a 4.0 student, so I told him my two goals here were to be an Academic All-American and eventually be a captain here."

Will White remain at safety? He's already listed 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, so he may eventually grow out of the position like past Buckeyes Cie Grant, Darron Lee, and Chris Worley. And if that happens, don't expect White to be too broken up about it.

"I like that a lot," he said of the comparisons to Lee that he has received. "Here’s a first-round guy, starting for the New York Jets, so who can go wrong being a first rounder? So I would be excited with that."

Don't be too concerned that White might not yet have a position. Chris Worley was still a safety as a true freshman. Sam Hubbard was still a tight end.

Finding the right spot for versatile athletes like White is one of Urban Meyer's favorite things about coaching.

"There’s been some great stories," Meyer said back in the spring. "Darron Lee is one that you kind of brought in here, we weren’t sure what he was going to be, but a great athlete. Brendon White. Sam Hubbard’s another one. You bring them in and you kind of see where they fit and where they’re needed. Right now we have a little bit of a need at wide receiver. We’re pretty deep at linebacker. So Brendon White, he was a good athlete, a quarterback in high school. Let’s take a look at him (at receiver) and see how he develops.

"And he’s also learning how to tackle and play on defense because his first impact will probably be in the kicking game, and then we’ll start to evolve him one way or the other. We’ll make that decision. I love recruiting guys like that, that’s one of my favorites. I really enjoy recruiting a great athlete, the guy who was usually the quarterback. Great high school coaches have a tendency to put their best player at quarterback. Joe Haden is a perfect example. We took him because he was a great athlete, and then we found out where he fit once he got there. Need is the priority.”

White might take a bit of time to pick up his newest position, but the qualities he will bring to safety are the same ones that had him playing well at wide receiver.

"He’s got a long way to go, but he’s a big, physical receiver and he catches everything," receivers coach Zach Smith said in the spring. "He’ll run a route with poor technique and everything wrong and he’ll still make a play. I always tell him that’s a good problem. We can get you coached up on how to run a route. It’s hard when a guy runs a perfect route and can’t make a play."

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