Well there you go friends. We now know who will be leading the Nebraska defense for Matt Rhule.
Sources: Nebraska is hiring Syracuse DC Tony White as the school’s next defensive coordinator. He runs a 3-3-5 defense and has emerged as one of the top ACC coordinators.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) December 8, 2022
Insert Tony White on that side of the ball as he is willing to take the same job at Nebraska that he did at Syracuse.
White brings prior assistant experience at Arizona State, New Mexico and San Diego State. He had multiple offers in this cycle and picked Nebraska.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) December 8, 2022
If you want to feel good about the hire, then here is the reaction from a Syracuse football beat writer:
Welp. That one stings for SU. White made a huge difference for the @CuseFootball defense in the past few years. Some were hoping he’d be the next head coach here. Big, big hire for Matt Rhule. https://t.co/b3cVewC8VT— Brent Axe (@BrentAxeMedia) December 8, 2022
In 2022, the Syracuse defense gave up only 22.7 points per game and 338 yards per game. Mitch Sherman reports that Syracuse was ranked 29th in total defense and 19th in passing yards.
Good thing the Big Ten is a huge passing conference. Will be interested to see if he runs his 3-3-5 or if he converts to a 4-3 which is what Rhule has told a couple recruits.
Regarding White’s 2021 season, here is what the Syracuse home site had to say:
After posting the best total defense mark in a decade at Syracuse in 2021, Tony White enters his third season as the Orange’s defensive coordinator.
A disciple of defensive guru Rocky Long and the two-time Scout.com Mountain West Recruiter of the Year, White has brought the 3-3-5 to ‘Cuse.
In 2021, Syracuse held opponents to 330 yards per game, which ranked 19th nationally and second in the ACC. Orange stars Mikel Jones (LB) and Cody Roscoe (DE) earned First Team All-ACC honors, while Garrett Williams, Duce Chestnut and Josh Black were also honored by the league. Syracuse made a habit of getting after the quarterback, ranking third in the ACC in sacks (3.1) and 16th in the FBS.
In his first season at Syracuse, three Syracuse players earned Freshman All-America honors (Garrett Williams, Ja’Had Carter and Stefon Thompson) from various publications. The Orange started as many as six freshmen on defense and five on multiple occasions that year, the most in program history. Chestnut added to that total in 2021, earning the honor from multiple outlets, and making four Freshman All-America selections from the SU defense in White’s first two seasons.
White arrived in Syracuse after a short stint as the Sun Devils’ defensive coordinator, a position he was appointed to in December 2019. He ran the defense in ASU’s 20-14 victory over Florida State in the 2019 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl, a game in which the Sun Devils shut out the Seminoles for nearly three quarters and scored a defensive touchdown. In White’s two seasons at Arizona State, the Sun Devils allowed just 13 passing plays of 40+ yards – a marked improvement over the 34 such plays ASU gave up in the two years before White got to Tempe. The Sun Devil secondary made dramatic gains in White’s first year, climbing 50 spots in the NCAA’s passing defense rankings.
That growth continued in 2019, as Arizona State finished the year 12th in the country with 65 passes defended. Three of White’s cornerbacks – Kobe White (2019), Jack Jones (2019) and Aashari Crosswell (2018) – were All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention selections. Before arriving at ASU, White cemented himself as one of the nation’s top rising assistant coaches during a nine-year stint (2009-17) under Long at San Diego State. While helping the Aztec secondary consistently rank as one of the elite groups in the nation, White was named the Scout.com Mountain West Recruiter of the Year twice (2011, 2013). He was also recognized as the top recruiter among non-Power-Five schools in 2014 by Rivals.com.
White’s tenure coincided with one of the most successful eras in SDSU history. The Aztecs went to eight bowl games in White’s nine seasons and won three Mountain West Conference championships (2012, 2015, 2016). SDSU finished with pass coverage grades ranked 31st or better in three of White’s last four years with the Aztecs, according to Pro Football Focus. In 2017, the Aztecs were 11th nationally and first in the Mountain West in total defense (314.5 ypg) and ranked 15th in the country in passing yards allowed (178.7). The strong showing followed a 2016 campaign in which San Diego State led the FBS with 26 interceptions. One of White’s star pupils, Damontae Kazee, was instrumental to the success. Kazee became the first cornerback in conference history to win Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year honors twice, capturing the award in 2015 and 2016. Kazee also garnered 2015 USA Today Second Team All-America recognition and was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
White also aided the development of cornerback J.J. Whittaker during that period. Whittaker earned All-Mountain West Second Team honors in 2014 and 2015 and was an All-MW Honorable Mention pick in 2013. In 2015, the Aztecs authored one of the top defensive seasons in program history en route to the Mountain West title. San Diego State ranked second nationally with 23 interceptions and was No. 10 in passing efficiency defense (108.71). The performance came after a 2014 season in which SDSU ranked third in the FBS in defensive passing efficiency (112.1) and surrendered just 10 touchdowns through the air (second among Mountain West schools).
In 2013, White earned Scout.com Mountain West Recruiter of the Year honors for the second time in three seasons. On the field, Whittaker had a breakout first year under White’s tutelage. He led the Aztecs with 14 passes defended, good for the fifth in the conference. The first time White’s recruiting prowess was formally recognized was in 2011 when he was tabbed Scout.com’s Mountain West Recruiter of the Year. Again the award was coupled with on-field success by his protégés. Both of SDSU’s starting cornerbacks, Leon McFadden and Larry Parker, earned first-team all-league honors. Parker, who was named an honorable mention All-American by SI.com, led the Mountain West with seven interceptions to tie for fourth nationally in his first season as a starter. McFadden, who topped the Mountain West in passes defended twice in his career, went on to become a third-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2013.
White came to San Diego State after spending the 2008 season with Long at New Mexico. White was in charge of the Lobos’ linebackers and mentored two all-conference selections (Zach Arnett and Herbert Felder). The 2008 Lobos ranked 26th nationally against the run, 45th in total defense and 46th in scoring defense. Before moving to Albuquerque, White got his start in the college ranks as the graduate assistant for football operations at UCLA in 2007. White assisted with the day-to-day running of the program, recruiting administration and distributed player information to pro scouts. In 2006, White served as the head football coach at St. Genevieve High School in Panorama City, California, where he led the team to its best record in 13 seasons and coached two first-team All-CIF selections.
As a player, White was a three-year starter and four-year letterman at outside linebacker for Bob Toledo at UCLA from 1997-2000. White made 64 tackles as a senior captain in 2000 and earned the program’s N.N. Sugarman Award for Best Leadership. After his collegiate career ended, White played four seasons in the Canadian Football League for the Calgary Stampeders, Ottawa Renegades (now the Redblacks) and Hamilton Tiger-Cats. A 2002 UCLA graduate, White holds a bachelor’s degree in history. He and his wife, Angela, have a son, Anthony III, and a daughter, Ava.