Southern Miss defense forces four turnovers to seal win over Marshall
When Alcorn State opens the season Saturday night at Southern Miss, Terry Whittington, an All-SWAC peformer for the Braves in 2018, will be on the field to begin the final campaign of his college football career.
He’ll again be chasing down quarterbacks as a speedy defensive end/linebacker hybrid, but he’ll be doing it in the black and gold instead of his old his purple and gold uniform.
Whittington landed at USM this summer as a graduate transfer after earning a diploma at Alcorn State following the 2018 campaign.
“It’s a great opportunity to go back and play my alma mater,” the 6-foot-5, 218-pound linebacker/defensive end said. “I actually graduated from there. I had a good four years there. We went to the SWAC championship four years in a row. It was a good experience.
“It’s going to be a wonderful experience. I’m looking forward to it.”
Following his redshirt junior year at Alcorn State, Whittington realized he had a chance to see if he could thrive on FBS level and help out his odds of becoming an NFL player after earning All-SWAC and HBCU All-American selections in 2018 with the Braves.
After entering the transfer portal, he called multiple coaches to gauge interest, including USM head coach Jay Hopson and co-defensive coordinator Derek Nicholson. Hopson is a former Alcorn State head coach who had Nicholson on his staff at the Lorman school.
“Southern Miss was an easy choice,” Whittington said. “I was recruited by Coach Hop (to Alcorn State). As they saw that I graduated into the transfer portal, we talked to each other to see how I fit into the defense. They were looking for a guy with my physique so it actually worked out well for me.”
During Saturday night’s 6 p.m. contest at “The Rock,” Whittington knows there will be a healthy back-and-forth chat with his old Alcorn State teammates.
“They know I’m focused on the game, but as I get into the feel of the game, I like to talk my little trash or whatever you call it,” Whittington said. “They know how I am as a competitor. So I’ll expect the same thing back from them, in a good competitive nature.”
Whittington also knows a lot about Alcorn State. That’s why his new Golden Eagle teammates have been picking his brain since he arrived in Hattiesburg.
“It’s been happening all camp since I’ve been here,” he said. “I give them little pointers to help give them an advantage on the field, to play a little faster and help them get a good feel for the opponent.”
Last season, Darian Yancey and Paxton Schrimsher manned the wolf position for USM, but both have finished their careers, leaving a shortage of players at that position. Although Torrence Brown, another graduate transfer from Penn State, is listed as first team at wolf on this week’s depth chart, there is no doubt that Whittington, who finished with nine sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss in 2018, will see action.
“Terry chose us, he came to us,” Hopson said. “He had gone home, and I think he was through. He was not going back to school and he actually came to us. I recruited Terry out of Miami a long time ago, so I knew what type of athlete he was.
“We actually had lost a couple of guys at our wolf position and that was a spot we looked at that we needed some depth. He’s a good addition for us and he’s had a good camp.”