UK Football: Freshman Jalen Whitlow wants to show coaches that he is a quarterback
Freshman Jalen Whitlow knows he¿s not considered a quarterback by many UK fans, but he says his best position is quarterback and he wants to prove he can play quarterback. (Clay Jackson / August 7, 2012)
“Quarterback. That is my best position. My natural position is quarterback,” said the Kentucky freshman from Prattville, Ala.
He says he could play receiver, Wildcat quarterback or even cornerback or safety “if they (UK’s coaches) made me” in certain situations.
However, he knows where he wants to play and believes he will play despite the presence of senior Morgan Newton, sophomore Maxwell Smith and true freshman Patrick Towles, Kentucky’s Mr. Football last season, on the quarterback depth chart.
“No doubt I am a quarterback in my mind. I want to just prove to everybody that I¿can play quarterback. I am a quarterback,” Whitlow, who helped his team win the Class AAAAAA state title last season, said. “I think I¿have a hill to climb, but a lot of people are sleeping on me. We have good quarterbacks. I have to work hard to get up their (to No. 1), but I think I¿can do it.”
One recruiting service ranked him as the nation’s 12th-best high school dual-threat quarterback last season.
He split time at quarterback and receiver in high school, a move he would not oppose as UK.
“I am wide open to it. Whatever I¿can do to get on the field and help the team get some wins, I am open to it,” he said.
Whitlow says his playing style “is no secret” to anyone who has watched him and won’t change at UK.
“I just work my butt off when I¿can and play my heart out. I love this game and just play my hardest. Whatever the coaches tell me to do, I follow their lead. On the field, I lead by example for the players. Just do what I can to win games for the team,” he said.
Whitlow, a honor roll student, says he could be stronger than many think when they see his 210-pound frame.
“I guess people don’t look at me as strong, but I¿think I¿have a little strength. I know this is a different level, and once you get to college you have to prove yourself all over again because everybody is strong. Everybody is big. Everybody is fast. Everybody is smart. You have to find your edge, so you have to work hard,” he said. “But I have strength and I¿do throw the ball better than a lot of people seem to think.”
He’s always been a versatile athlete. He started his athletic career in T-ball and played baseball until the eighth grade. He was a pitcher and shortstop.
“People told me I¿should keep playing, but I¿didn’t really like it as much as the other sports. I was playing travel basketball and I was going from football to basketball and did both in high school. Basketball was actually my favorite sport coming into high school, but once I exploded in football I¿knew that was the right path for me,” Whitlow, who played basketball until his senior year, said.
He says there “is a lot of talent” already at Kentucky along with talented newcomers like himself.
“Coming up here I¿knew that I would have to work my butt off to get on the field because we had a lot of talent all around at different positions. Everybody is fast. Everybody is strong. I think we can compete and definitely get to a bowl game,” he said.
Is the talent better than he expected considering UK’s 5-7 finish last year?
“I am not going to say that because this is the SEC and everybody has talent. It is how you use the talent and how the talent performs on game day that counts,” Whitlow said.
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Another Prattville player, kicker Austin MacGinnis, has given his verbal commitment to sign with UK¿in February. However, Whitlow did not play with MacGinnis.
“He transferred to Prattville.¿He is ranked like No. 15 in the nation or something like that.¿He came right before I¿graduated. I saw him a couple of times at spring practice and he kicked like 60-yard field goals,” Whitlow said. “We have never had one of those, so that is pretty good. I saw him up here at camp one day, so hopefully he gets here because he can really kick.”