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Football: Brendon White’s ties to OSU make him an early leader in 2017 class

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Ohio State freshman Brendon White speaks to the media at National Signing Day on Feb. 1 at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Credit: Jacob Myers | Assistant Sports Editor

The first time freshman Brendon White steps onto the field for Ohio State, whenever that might be, the world will finally know what position White will play.

In high school, White played defensive back, wide receiver and quarterback, so the best way to classify him is as an athlete.

White might sound like the prototypical four-star athlete that is so often brought into OSU to contribute in more ways than one. But being raised a Buckeye, the understanding of that expectation has molded White.

Growing up in Powell, Ohio, roughly 25 minutes from OSU’s campus, White didn’t have much of a choice other than to be a fan of the Scarlet and Gray — especially knowing his father, William, played safety at OSU from 1984 to 1987.

William White won two Big Ten championships and was named All-Big Ten his senior season. Most freshmen come to OSU with aspirations of national championships. Brendan White’s goals are grounded in his roots.

“The only thing I want to take from my dad coming here is he was a captain, so I’m trying to be a captain,” White said on National Signing Day. “He was always a 4.0 (GPA) student, so I told him my two goals here is to be an academic All-American and eventually be a captain here.”

The original plan constructed by former linebackers coach Luke Fickell was to have White converted to linebacker. Once Fickell left for the head coaching job at the University of Cincinnati, and wide receiver Noah Brown unexpectedly departed for the NFL, Meyer called White into his office to talk about the possibility of playing wide receiver.

For linebacker, White likes the comparison to Darron Lee, former OSU and current New York Jets linebacker. As a wide receiver, he wants to be compared to Michael Thomas, current New Orleans Saints player who topped franchise records and led all rookie receivers in yards, receptions and touchdowns.

Being bred in the same area of Ohio with clear ambitions to excel in the classroom and be a leader for OSU, similarities can be drawn to former Buckeye captain linebacker Joshua Perry, who now plays for the San Diego Chargers.

Perry is also from Powell and played at Olentangy High School, just a couple miles down the road from Olentangy Liberty High School, where White played. White said he is very close with Perry. He said the two even had breakfast a few days before National Signing Day.

I talked with him before I came out here,” White said. “My senior year, I talked with him a lot just saying ‘How is it, what’s it like?’ He has definitely helped me with the process coming here so I had a heads up before I officially got here.”

Having a football mentor like his father was already a big impact, but then having a connection to Perry, considered one of the greatest humanitarians and team players Meyer has had at OSU, just adds to the positive influence around White.

White joined the football program in December during Fiesta Bowl practice, a full month before the rest of the early enrollees from the 2017 recruiting class. He wasn’t allowed to participate in practice in pads, but went through team warmups and sat in team meetings to develop his football IQ.

Having the opportunity to be around a team that was preparing for a national semifinal was a rarity. For it to happen to a homegrown player like White, who is fully aware of the culture inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, shouldn’t come as a complete surprise.

“My dad would always take me up to the Woody, watching practice,” he said. “I was really close to Coach Tressel. I think it was about eighth grade and we were playing That Team Up North and this excitement around the stadium was very exciting. I knew from then on I was going to work hard to try and get that scholarship to come here and play football.”

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