This week's Better Know a Buckeye feature continues with a profile of Brendon White, an athlete from nearby Powell.
- Size: 6-2/210
- Position: WR
- Hometown: Powell, OH
- School: Olentangy Liberty
- 247 Composite: ★★★★
- National Ranking: 126
- Position Ranking: 3 (ATH)
- State Ranking: 2 (OH)
Brendon White is a second-generation Buckeye. His father, William, played at Ohio State from 1984 to 1987 and spent 11 years in the NFL. The younger White, raised in Central Ohio after his father's playing career ended with the Falcons, aspired to play for Ohio State like his father did. He was presented the opportunity on September 30, 2015 and jumped on it two days later.
I retell his recruitment below, one in which White seriously evaluated offers from Michigan State and Notre Dame before Ohio State came calling. Thereafter, I provide a scouting report of a talented "athlete" prospect who will ply his craft at wide receiver first this spring and summer. I offer a projection of a redshirt in 2017 before offering some highlight film for the reader to watch at the end of the feature.
Brendon White is a local product who committed to Ohio State early into his junior year. As a result, there was not much to say about the courtship period nor did his recruitment contain some of the drama and intrigue of his other classmates.
More Brendon White at 11W
White camped at Ohio State after his freshman year, both to improve his craft and also to earn the coaching staff's attention. He worked to remain in Ohio State's orbit with two unofficial visits in the 2014 football season to games against Virginia Tech and Cincinnati.
Like many other Ohioans, even those that eventually land at Ohio State, the offers that first came were from smaller programs in the region. Toledo offered in January 2015. Marshall offered at the end of April. Illinois was the first Power Five offer when an assistant coach visited him an informed him of the good news.
White's first breakthrough in his recruitment came when Michigan State offered at the beginning of his junior year. It was by far his biggest offer to that point. It came just in time for White to schedule an unofficial visit to East Lansing for the Spartans' matchup against Oregon. Afterward, White called Michigan "definitely a top choice."
His good fortunes continued the next week when Notre Dame came calling. He took an unofficial visit for the weekend of Notre Dame's home tilt against Georgia Tech and left with an offer and a review of a great experience.
His recruitment thereafter lasted all of two weeks and focused squarely on Ohio State, even if Kentucky also offered at this time. He visited Ohio State for its game against Western Michigan. The experience was good, though Ohio Stadium on a gameday was a familiar sight for the Ohio State legacy. Four days later, Ohio State decided to extend a scholarship offer to White, giving him the option of becoming a second-generation Buckeye and to play for his "dream school."
Blessed to receive my 8th offer from The Ohio State University pic.twitter.com/9oiFN9KtWv
— Brendon White (@therealestbw0) September 30, 2015
White needed just 48 hours to think it over before making his decision.
Brendon White committed to Ohio State on October 2, 2015 as the seventh member of what would become Ohio State's full 2017 recruiting class. He had just eight offers total to that point, but largely chose the Buckeyes over competing options from Michigan State and Notre Dame.
The rationale for the commitment follows his public statements about Ohio State as a "dream school" and how he would love to play his where his father played. Consider that he even said this to Eleven Warriors just three months before the opportunity came to make it happen.
"I'm hearing from Ohio State and I've been there for a visit... I'm also hearing from Michigan State and Indiana. If I get the offer from Ohio State, I will commit there. It's my dream school, and I want to follow in my dad's footsteps."
WHERE HE EXCELS
There's still some lingering intrigue to where White eventually lands at Ohio State. Recruiting services listed him as an "athlete" though implicitly thought he was a safety. Ohio State recruited him as a potential linebacker. White compounded the confusion by enrolling in January, helping the linebackers in its bowl prep for Clemson, shortly before announcing a move to wide receiver on Twitter. The updated roster for 2017 lists him at wide receiver with No. 80 on the jersey. The evaluation that follows will think of him as potential wide receiver.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) December 17, 2016
It would be okay to be suspicious at first glance of White as a wide receiver if you saw the measurables or read some initial reports about him as "the next Darron Lee." You wouldn't expect to see film that suggests White knew how to be a polished wide receiver at the high school level or had the kind of athleticism that could carry well to the collegiate level. You would be pleasantly surprised.
White is a big-bodied wide receiver prospect who imposes a physical presence and, importantly, has creative ways of using it. There is some footage you'll see of White barreling through defensive backs or over tacklers. More often, you'll see a wide receiver with a high school linebacker's body getting skinny through tunnel screens or running routes while avoiding first contact from a defensive back.
One of my favorite plays in one of his highlight films comes around the 20-second mark in the video at the end of the feature. White gets a clean release and sits the top of his route. The quarterback, not seeing the play develop to his liking, scrambles and commits a cardinal sin of quarterbacking: throwing late across the field. White works to hard to beat the defensive back to the spot, is a bit late, but yanks a sure interception away from the defensive back and gets 35 yards on the play.
Further, for a one-time linebacker prospect, White can "out-athlete" arguably anyone in the class. He made it to The Opening finals in Oregon and ran a 4.54 40-yard dash and a 4.09 20-yard shuttle. The latter is the same time as J.K. Dobbins in the same class. No one would confuse White as a home-run threat at wide receiver but he could credibly take on defensive backs at the line of scrimmage, create separation, and plays with the ball.
MUST WORK ON
My hope is White finds his calling at wide receiver initially, or finds his calling wherever else as soon as possible. Few things are more worrying for the career of a college football prospect than an "athlete" still looking for a position. Time spent looking for a position is ultimately development time lost.
Further, prominent cases of Adoree Jackson and Jabrill Peppers obscure the fact college football is more about specialization than finding players who can do a little bit of everything. To take the Peppers case further, you'll find no shortage of analysts complaining that Michigan's proclivity to have Peppers do all sorts of jobs meant Peppers was unable to become pro-ready at any one of them.
Bringing this back to White, his through-the-roof athletic potential will ultimately want to focus on one thing in which he can specialize. It's inconceivable that he thrives as part-time wide-receiver who could also play a little bit of linebacker. My suspicion is Ohio State's coaching staff wants him as a linebacker but has a short-term need at wide receiver. That's ultimately development time lost for White if a move to linebacker is in his intermediate future.
More specifically for his position, White shows more nuance running routes than I had anticipated but his Olentangy Liberty program was not running college-level concepts. That critique is common to almost all wide receiver prospects except for those coming from prep factories like IMG or St. Thomas Aquinas.
White enrolled early and Ohio State made it a point to transition him from linebacker to wide receiver with a clear signal that he should do something immediately at a position of need on the roster. Notwithstanding that signal and the opportunity White has, I think he redshirts in 2017.
Here are junior-year highlights for White.