Sept. 16, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- As promised, Auburn gave a freshman Ryan White a chance to work with the quarterbacks in August 2010.
A fellow by the name of Cam Newton stood in his way.
White worked out with the quarterbacks for about a week before shifting to defensive back, where today he finds himself as a starter and the Tigers' fourth-leading tackler heading into Saturday night's game against LSU.
But he's had a hand in scoring, too.
White, a former high school quarterback standout, has been the central figure in two successful 2-point conversion plays that have caught the opposition flat-footed. The holder for extra points and field goals took a direct snap and scored against Washington State in the opener, and threw a pass to Brandon Fulse for points against Mississippi State. The moves by Gus Malzahn, called at unusual times, have given the Tigers bonus points.
"Coach Malzahn likes to have fun with that, what we call The Batman," White said. "We just try to look for the edge in the defense, something we know that will get the crowd into the game."
No, the conversions have not made him a quarterback again.
"It's cool, but I've kind of migrated away from being at quarterback. It was nice to have the ball in my hands. It was something different," White said.
Instead, White is a cornerback, who has 14 tackles this season. It's been an unusual ride, from quarterback to defensive back, plus holder the last three years; to a guy who started the opener last season and made seven tackles, but had just four more tackles the rest of the year; to being just three tackles short of leading this year's team in stops.
White takes the high road in discussing his start last year and his lack of playing time that followed.
"It was very tough but, once again, I had to look at myself and see what I was doing wrong," White said. "I just had to work on those things."
Those things? "Tackling. Tackling."
White apparently figured it out. He and Jake Holland led Auburn with eight tackles each in last Saturday's 24-20 win over Mississippi State. White said new secondary coach Melvin Smith has helped him to get there.
"It's been the biggest change, in a positive way, since I've been here," White said. "I remember the first time talking to him I asked him what he brought to the table. He told me he brought physical and tackling. Those were the most things I needed to work on."
And now it's on to LSU.
"We're riding pretty high on confidence and we think we can go down and beat those guys," White said.
"I feel like this game could be on the corners once again."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine