Still searching: After trick play, Whittemore feeling more confident
Published 8:14 pm Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Redshirt Freshman receiver Luke Whittemore entered the season with a lot of excitement swirling around him, but the spotlight began to fade through four games due to dropped passes and lack of production.
Although he didn’t put up dazzling numbers on Saturday, one play could pave the way for future success.
The Trojans were up 7-0 when Whittemore hauled in a screen pass from quarterback Kaleb Barker. Whittemore gathered his thoughts and completed a pass to Jabir Daughtry-Frye that he took for a 35-yard touchdown.
“You know, that wasn’t a thing of beauty,” said head coach Neal Brown. “We had it set up pretty good. We’ve been working on that for a few weeks. he did a nice job with it. Those are the hardest passes to throw, when they’re so wide open, but he did a nice job. He’s our holder, too.”
The Trojans were waiting for the right time to put the play into action and with the Trojans up 7-0 early, the time was right for a trick play.
“We’ve had it in our repertoire since the beginning of the year,” Whittemore said. “We’ve been working on it every week, but were waiting on the right time to pull it out. We thought this week would be a good opportunity to do that. We kind of wanted to do it in that area of the field, near the red zone. When I caught it, I was glad he was wide open. It wasn’t the best ball, but it got there. The stats say 1-for-1, TD. That’s all that matters.”
Whittemore was one of Troy’s top players in the offseason. Brown thought he was the team’s most productive player in the spring and near the top in the fall. However, his season got off to a slow start.
Whittemore currently has four catches for a total of 25 yards on the season.
“He’s a guy that I’ve probably been hard on,” Brown said. “I didn’t think he performed up to what he’s capable of the first couple of weeks. He was really good all spring, really good in fall camp. We got into game situations, and he was kind of taking a backseat. He wasn’t playing with a lot of confidence, so we’re really pushing him in practice.”
“At the beginning of the year, I definitely wasn’t playing at the level that I felt I could perform at,” Whittemore said. “Just at practice and stuff. I think that contributed to me not getting as many reps, but I do feel like I’m settling in. I kind of know the role I need to take this year. I’m looking forward to how that’s going to play out.”
A play like he made on Saturday could bolster his confidence heading into Thursday’s game on short rest.
“It did give me some confidence,” Whittemore said. “It’s just exciting, overall. Just getting in there and being able to contribute like that. Yeah, it felt really good.”
Whittemore is just a redshirt freshman, so he has time to make his mark on the offense. After seeing signs in the offseason, Brown still believes the best is yet to come for Whittemore.
“I thought he played his best game against Monroe,” Brown said. “He came back and did a good job of throwing that pass, caught a couple of balls. He really blocked much better in the game on Saturday. He’s a guy that we need to be a quality backup this year. He’s going to big part of what we’re doing offensively as we move forward.”
Whittemore comes from an athletic family. His mother was a successful volleyball player at Florida and is currently an announcer for the SEC Network. His father played football at Central Florida and his brother is currently committed to play football at an SEC school.
“He comes from pretty good stock,” Brown said. “Luke is really deceiving. He runs well. He has a really good vertical. He’s one of those guys who has really good hand-eye coordination. He’s really kind of growing into a leader for our guys, especially off the field.”
Whittemore now has a 100 percent completion percentage as a quarterback, a percentage he would like to hold on to.
“That’s kind of a goal,” Whittemore said. “I don’t want to be 50 percent. I kind of want to stay up there at 100. If we can keep that rating for the rest of the year, that would be nice.”