COLUMBUS – Patience, son. Patience.
That was the message sophomore safety Brendon White heard from his father, former Ohio State and Lima Senior standout William White.
That patience paid off for White when he had 13 tackles, two of them for losses in Ohio State’s 36-31 win over Nebraska on Saturday in Ohio Stadium.
“Be patient, trust in the Lord and your time will come. Don’t give up because when you give up and you get an opportunity like this you won’t be ready,” was how Brendon White described the advice he got from his dad, a four-year starter in the defensive backfield for Ohio State from 1984-1987, as he waited for his chance to play.
“It’s a dream come true. Hard work pays off. We always go through adversity as athletes. The biggest thing is not to give up on yourself and have faith in God and keep going. When my opportunity came I took advantage of it,” Brendon White said.
“After the game I started tearing up. Growing up in Ohio and going to Olentangy Liberty High School, 15 minutes from here, and always going to the games as a high school kid and being able to play at your dream school is pretty cool.”
White, a 4-star recruit, graduated early from Olentangy Liberty to enroll at Ohio State in January 2017.
When he first arrived, OSU thought maybe he could use his speed to become a Darron Lee-type linebacker. Then when there was a shortage of receivers, he was tried at receiver. Finally around a year ago safety became his permanent position.
Ohio State’s safety position opposite Jordan Fuller has been a starting spot no one has locked up as their own nine games into the season. Some people have questioned why White or maybe some other young player hasn’t been given more playing time.
He says he wasn’t one of those. “Coaches get paid millions of dollars to make those decisions,” he said.
OSU coach Urban Meyer said, “Brendon White came in and did a hell of a job. He’s been working very hard to earn the trust of the coaches and get on the field. He’s getting better and better and, obviously, he proved it today.”
White had earned enough trust from the coaches that he was scheduled to play on third-down situations on Saturday. But when Fuller was ejected for targeting in the first half, White got the chance to play full-time.
“The first series was kind of nerve-racking being out there with the first team in the middle of the game. It was kind of early. Usually I’m going in during the fourth quarter. After the first series and the second series, I started believing in myself more and guys said ‘You’ve got this,’ ” he said.
“When my opportunity came I took advantage of it. I had a good week of practice and I knew my opportunity would come sooner or later. And when it did my job was to make plays.”
White’s first moment in the spotlight at Ohio State came on a day when William White appeared on the Ohio Stadium video screen to appeal for donations to fight ALS, a disease he was diagnosed with around two years ago.
Seeing his dad, who he described as “one of my idols,” doing that was emotional, Brendon White said.
“I saw that. I got emotional about it. That was pretty cool, too. He’s always positive about it. He believes in God and God has the disease under control. He’s just going to stay positive and keep doing what he does,” he said.
Brendon White hopes to keep doing what he did Saturday, too.
“The biggest thing my dad tells me is just to enjoy the game of football and that’s what I try to do. I enjoy the game and my teammates and this program and I’m ready to get out there again next week,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.