White Settles In At Fullback

When Stan White Jr. arrived at Ohio State four years ago, he thought he would either be a linebacker, or tight end. But now entering his second year as OSU's starting fullback, he says he enjoys his role on the team very much and looks forward to being a leader this season. White also talks about being a mentor for freshman fullback Aram Olson.

There's not much glory for Ohio State's fullback, but fifth-year senior Stan White Jr. wouldn't have it any other way. He's one of those players that doesn't like the spotlight and is willing to do anything the team needs.

White (6-2, 242) came to OSU in the fall of 2002 as one of five prized linebacker prospects. He joined the likes of A.J. Hawk, Bobby Carpenter, Mike D'Andrea and Mike Kudla.

However, a few weeks into his first preseason camp, he was moved to tight end where he helped out on the scout team during his redshirt year.

As a freshman in 2003, White played the H-back position (tight end/fullback hybrid) and saw action in 12 of 13 games primarily on special teams.

The 2004 season was very similar has he played in 10 of 12 games, with most of his action coming on special teams.

As a junior in 2005, White finally got a chance to show what he could do on the college level. He started all 12 games at fullback and developed a reputation as an effective lead blocker who always got a hat on the right defender. White also caught three passes for 21 yards.

Heading into his final season at OSU and his second as a starter, White is very happy with his role on the team.

"I really am," he said. "I feel that I've kind of grown into this role as a fullback and now it feels like I've played this position my whole life. I really like it and I'm here to do anything I can to help us win games and have the kind of season we want to have and know we should have."

The Buckeyes had their first practice of preseason camp on Monday and as a veteran player, White knows how important these next three weeks will be.

"I think it's about figuring out who worked really hard in the offseason and the first week is about figuring out who we are and how we're going to start the season as far as offensive game plans and what we want to do," he said. "And we'll get more into that as camp progresses and we get closer to the first game. We just want to find out who we are and keep modifying that image.

"I think there's some mental aspects that the coaches are trying to show. You know, this is camp, we're going to work hard, blue collar, bring your hard hat every day and get to work."

There's obviously very little down time for the players during camp. White explained how a typical day might go.

"You wake up about 5:45, then you go to breakfast," he said. "And then literally all day, you are living and breathing football. It's meetings, it's practice, it's more meetings. You get some food and sleep when you can. And then you go back to the hotel to hang out with the guys and play some cards or video games and pretty soon you start passing out and start all over again the next day."

But do the players dread coming to camp? Or are they excited that the season is almost here and ready to get to work?

"Well, there's always a nervous anticipation," White said. "You know you are going to get beat up, you're going to hurt and not feel good. But then also, we know what is expected of us from the outside and inside and from the people of Columbus and we're excited to go out and prove it. We want to prove that we are the team."

The voters in the USA Today/Coaches Poll certainly think the Buckeyes are "the team." Ohio State will open the season with the No. 1 ranking in that poll, but White couldn't care less.

"I guess it's nice for people to think you are good rather than bad," White said. "But as long as you're in the top 15 to 20 teams, you've got a shot where it's all on you. If you win, you have a shot to achieve your goals. And I think our goals are the same no matter what outsiders think."

With eight returning starters on offense – including Heisman Trophy candidate Troy Smith at quarterback – the Buckeyes are expected to have one of the best offenses in the country. However, OSU has a history of starting slow offensively under Jim Tressel. White gave his take on the offense and how far ahead of the curve it might be due to the presence of Smith.

"Yeah, I think from an outsider's perspective, as well as from an offensive player's perspective, it all starts with Troy," he said. "I think he showed early in his career he could be a playmaker, and he's also shown he can be a steadfast leader. I think he has a sense of confidence that spreads throughout the whole offense.

"As a team, I think we have 16 fifth-year seniors, so there's a lot of leadership there and I think we're going to have a great year because of that leadership we have."

The Buckeyes' offense has a lot more weapons than just Smith. Junior wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. is also being hyped as a possible Heisman candidate, OSU has two good running backs in Antonio Pittman and Chris Wells, and a talented offensive line. All of that makes for a versatile offense that can do everything from the power-I, to the spread.

"The key to our offense is always about balance," White said. "I think the play of our wide receivers last year really opened things up and took that extra safety out of the box. There were only seven guys to guard against the run, which allowed Pittman to be as successful as he was. Now, Pittman is the stud now and it's my job to help him and help the power run game go and that will open up the wide receivers when they bring the extra guy in the box to help with Pittman."

White is the son of former OSU linebacker Stan White who also played in the NFL with the Baltimore Colts. The younger White grew up trying to soak in everything his father told him about football.

And now as a fifth-year senior, White has a young kid following him around trying to lean everything he can: true freshman fullback Aram Olson.

"Aram is a great kid," White said. "I met him on his official visit and took him around. And he's actually been living with me for the past week – he came in early to do the workouts with us. And yeah, I'm excited to show him what I have learned over the past five years and I think he's another talented skilled guy to challenge me and make me better."

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