The future stars of Ohio State football officially begin their Buckeye careers as standouts from all over the country put pens to their National Letters of Intent.
Oftentimes when a prospect commits to a home school fairly early in the process, the recruiting outlets seem to to have a different perception of the player.
The White File
SIZE: 6-foot-2, 200 pounds
SCHOOL: Olentangy Liberty (Powell, OH)
COMPOSITE RANKING: ★★★★
COMPOSITE RANK: 3 (ATH)
Brendon White, the son of former Buckeye defensive back William White, really didn't receive a lot of attention from other schools after he committed back in October of 2015. In a way, you really can't blame the other programs. Schools probably just correctly assumed that the Ohio State legacy wasn't going to end up anywhere other than Columbus.
White was listed as a three-star safety at the time of the pledge, but unlike many others in these situations, he actually saw his ratings skyrocket after making his college commitment.
During the summer of 2015, he held early offers from Boston College, Marshall, and Toledo, but was hearing from a few Big Ten schools as well. In speaking to Scout.com's Bill Greene, the Olentangy Liberty star made it abundantly clear on where he wanted to spend his college days.
"I'm hearing from Ohio State and I've been there for a visit," he added. "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." Via
Michigan State and Notre Dame would both offer in September of that year, and White would then make a trip to Ohio State's campus later in the month. An offer and subsequent commitment followed shortly thereafter.
Part of the reason for White's early three-star rating was because the pundits really didn't know what position he would ultimately play. His potential was through the roof, but he was sort of in the "jack of all trades, master of none" category at the time.
The Buckeyes held early commitments from Shaun Wade, Marcus Williamson, and Isaiah Pryor, and they were well on their way to the historic defensive back class that has since come to fruition. Naturally, many began to speculate that White – at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds – would ultimately end up at linebacker.
The comparisons to another star who was – at the time – leading the defense in what would be his final season didn't take long to begin. And it was a very reasonable comparison to make. Brendon White was a high school athlete in a Columbus suburb just like Darron Lee had been a few years prior. Like White, Lee also was recruited as more of an athlete. The potential trajectory to linebacker made a lot of sense.
"He can pretty much play anywhere," a source close to the Buckeyes said. "He's really athletic and there's no doubt that he's going to get better."
Things got a little bit interesting in May. White arrived for the Columbus Nike camp and actually lined up at wide receiver. It was clear to those in attendance that he absolutely possessed the skills to play wideout. In fact, many had him listed as one of the three or four best at the position.
Still, most of the talk continued to center around his future at linebacker. Safety commit Isaiah Pryor had been another player whose eventual position was questioned, but White just seemed like the more likely option to end up playing that Darron Lee type of role. At the time, most felt that White and linebacker commit Antjuan Simmons were the future of the position.
Shortly after his performance at the Nike camp, White received the honor of being invited to The Opening finals in Oregon. He was the seventh Buckeye commitment to earn that distinction.
While in Oregon, he recorded a 4.54 40-yard dash and a 4.09-second 20-yard shuttle; the same time as fellow early enrollee J.K. Dobbins. White's performances in the spring and summer helped him move from a three-star safety prospect closer to where he is today – a four-star and the nation's third-ranked athlete.
White lined up at quarterback early on in the season and led Olentangy Liberty to a 10-0 regular season. When the starting quarterback returned, he played everywhere on offense, lining up at both running back and wide receiver. The Patriots finished the season 13-1 with their lone loss coming against Cleveland St. Ignatius in the Division I playoffs.
The four-star graduated early from high school and actually was spotted at Ohio State's Fiesta Bowl practice on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 17.
He was seen working mostly with the linebackers and heavily shadowing Jerome Baker. Basically, things were already going as most had expected they would. White arrived on campus early – although I don't think anyone expected it to be that early – and had seemingly already found a home in the linebacker room.
Rewinding back to the spring of 2016, White – then a junior – talked about where he most enjoyed playing:
“I do prefer receiver, but at the end of the day I’m going to do whatever gets me on the field,” he said. “But right now I’m just going to be an athlete and enjoy the ride and when I get there they’ll have a position for me set and ready to go.”
Earlier this past week, Ohio State learned that wideout Noah Brown and H-back Curtis Samuel would both forego their remaining eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. These decisions may have been the perfect recipe for White to end up under Zach Smith's tutelage in Zone Six.
Despite the tweet, it obviously remains to be see how White will be utilized in Columbus. It wouldn't be a total surprise if he sees the field in a number of different ways during his tenure. He certainly has the athleticism to do so.
The Buckeyes are bringing in a number of talented wideouts and linebackers, so a redshirt season is expected. That will give him a full year to absorb what Zach Smith and/or Bill Davis have to teach about their respective positions.
But with an athlete as talented as Brendon White, you just never know. He could be in the mix for playing time as a true freshman — wherever it may be.