COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ever since he committed to Ohio State, there’s been speculation as to which position Brendon White would play.
A versatile 4-star athlete from Powell (Ohio) Olentangy Liberty, White excelled as a safety, receiver and quarterback in high school.
“He did everything growing up,” Olentangy Liberty coach Steve Hale said. “He played multiple sports, and he was really good at all of them. And then he kept growing and getting bigger. I think he weighs somewhere around 215 pounds now, and he’s 6-foot-2. He runs really, really well. In football, that opens up a ton of doors. He can catch the ball and run with the ball.”
He’s projected to grow into a prototypical linebacker, which is where most recruiting services slotted him. But on Jan. 10, he sent out a tweet indicating that he’d get a coveted shot with the Ohio State wide receivers.
— Brendon White (@therealestbw0) January 10, 2017
Less than a month later, on National Signing Day, he confirmed the message behind the tweet. When asked where he’d end up, he first said it was still up in the air. But when asked what he’d tell a fellow student who asked him what position he played, his answer was more clear.
“Probably wide receiver,” he said. “Yeah, wide receiver.”
White flew under the radar as a recruit because of his early commitment to Ohio State and because of the star-studded nature of this class. Don’t be deceived, however — this isn’t some vanity project designed to appease him.
Scout.com recruiting analyst Bill Greene, who watched White throughout his high school career, said he can legitimately have success on either side of the ball. He said White isn’t a Chris Gamble-type who can do both at the same time, but he’s equally capable at snagging passes or delivering hits.
Greene said White is the first such player in that mold under Meyer at Ohio State.
“I thought (cornerbacks) Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley were 70-30 or 60-40 that they were corners and not receivers,” he said. “Those guys could have played either side and succeeded, but it was still obvious which side of the ball their money would be made. But Brendon is a 50-50 guy.
“If they give him a spot and leave him there, he will succeed at that spot.”
The worry, at least to Greene, is what might happen if White bounces around from linebacker to safety to wide receiver without ever truly finding a home. Defensive end Sam Hubbard managed to juggle three positions at the start of his career, but it cost him his freshman season, and his eventual success is more the exception than the rule.
“I just hope he doesn’t bounce around from position to position to position,” Greene said. “Years go by sometimes, and time gets away from you. When you’re on your third position in four years, sometimes it just doesn’t happen for these kids. Wherever he starts out, I hope that’s where he plays. I don’t care where, because I think he can play college safety, college linebacker or college wideout.”
Hale, for his part, tends to agree with Greene. He shied away from the common comparison of White to linebacker Darron Lee and said White will be able to make his own path no matter where he ends up.
“It speaks to the rareness of what he is,” Hale said. “A lot of people touted him as the next Darron Lee coming out of high school. I think there where so many similarities, and they’re both from Columbus suburbs, that type of thing. But I don’t see it. I think he’s going to be the first Brendon White.”