Next in our series is another Linebacker in Nyeem Wartman-White. Wartman-White is one of three returning starters on a linebacking corps that could push to be among the best in the Big Ten.
How He Got here
Due to his injury against Temple, which took him out for the rest of the year, not much has changed since I last wrote this preview when it comes to Nyeem’s potential. So instead of rewriting this, here’s what I said then:
Wartman-White was a 3-star recruit in the class of 2012, with a solid, but not amazing, offer list. He was the 19th best player in Pennsylvania, 62nd nationally at his position. He redshirted his freshman season after an injury against Virgina, which sidelined him for all of 2012. He's since slowly, but surely, established himself as a staple in the linebacking corps.
Wartman-White has followed a similar path so far as Mike Hull. He redshirted his freshman season, then started a few games in his redshirt freshman season. He immediately showed potential once he took the field full time, even if the results on the field left something to be desired at times. Like Hull, Wartman-White was slowed down by injuries a few times, but continued to work towards getting better and producing more.
One important aspect of his performance so far has been his ability to substantially increase his production year by year. Wartman-White had as many solo tackles in 2014 as he had total tackles in 2013, with 3.5 tackles for loss and an interception. He was more involved all over the field, making his presence felt in almost every play.
What to Expect in 2016
Returning from injury is never easy, and the staff has made it a point to be careful in Nyeem’s return. It’s fair to expect some rust in play in the first game or two, but a guy with Nyeem’s ability won’t be held back for long.
According to his teammates, not being on the field has been hard for Nyeem, and he’s ready to come back better than ever. In his own words, he’s not worried about his draft stock, or his performance this season. He’s focused on winning:
If we can go undefeated, and I come off the bench, that's more important to me than me having 140 tackles," Wartman-White said on Monday. "You get a Big Ten championship, that's way more important ... you'll remember that more than why I wasn't this or that.
Nyeem’s leadership as well as his versatility will be invaluable to the defense coming into the season. Whether at middle or outside Linebacker, he’ll be able to complement the front four and provide run support to allow the secondary to run wild. Nyeem will have an opportunity to cement himself as one of the Penn State greats at Linebacker, and I expect that he’ll seize the opportunity.