2020 NFL Draft: Terry Whittington, HBCU star to know

Terry Whittington has become a beast on the gridiron not just among HBCU schools, but across the nation, and is ready to become Alcorn State's first draft pick in 20 years.

Over the last decade, an influx of HBCU talent has helped the resurgence of black college players in the NFL. Terry Whittington is ready to become the next great star from Alcorn State, which has produced NFL legends including the late Steve McNair and Donald Driver. Since Driver was selected in 1999 by the Green Bay Packers, no Braves player has been drafted since, but Whittington may be the player to break that 20-year curse.

Although he will be completing his fifth year at the University of Southern Mississippi, he still leaves Alcorn State as one of the greatest.

Who Is Terry Whittington?

Terry Whittington played both ways in high school, as a hard-hitting linebacker and wide receiver for the Cooper City Cowboys in Broward County. After two years of being sidelined by injuries and misconduct on and off the field, the Florida native got his act together as a junior. Selected as a Broward County All-Star, Whittington had interests from several schools but decided on Alcorn State quickly. It turned out to be a good move. After the transition from inside linebacker to edge rusher, Whittington had a phenomenal 2018 season.

In 2018, Alcorn State led all FCS programs with 52 sacks, averaging four per game. The Braves defense averaged an FCS-best 9.5 tackles for loss per game. Terry Whittington was the anchor of the frightening Braves defense, compiling 50 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 9 sacks. He made National headlines in Week 8 of the 2018 season against Grambling State with 15 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. Whittington was a half-sack away from the Alcorn State single-game record. Whittington’s efforts landed him on the SWAC All-Conference First Team and the Boxtorow HBCU All-American Team.

The Year Ahead

Alcorn State fell just two points shy of a Celebration Bowl championship against North Carolina A&T, losing 24-22. Terry Whittington was the focal point for Alcorn’s defense; on the other side was Aggies defensive end, Darryl Johnson. The MEAC Defensive Player of the Year was selected by the Buffalo Bills in Round 7 of the 2018 NFL Draft. With Johnson gone, Whittington is the HBCU world’s best-kept secret. With five nationally-televised games on the schedule for the Braves, Whittington will have ample opportunity to prove last season wasn’t a fluke. The Braves defense returns most of its key players, with Whittington leading the way.

Show and Prove

As aforementioned, Johnson kept the Aggies’ streak of players drafted going, becoming the third-consecutive player taken in three seasons. Whittington is of similar build, a tall-lanky end with a quick first step and violent hands. Weighing 235 pounds, he’s a bit on the smaller side, but he makes up for that with his quickness and variety of moves at the point of contact. Whittington showed the ability to make plays in the open-field and behind the line of scrimmage, recording 14 tackles for loss. But is often the case with smaller ends, Terry Whittington will have to prove he is strong enough to get off a block at the next level.

Being good is not good enough to get to the NFL, and Whittington will have to up his stock to impress NFL scouts. Luckily for him, players like Johnson and Defensive Rookie of the Year Darius Leonard continue to repave the way for HBCU players. If Johnson could leave school early and make it to the NFL, Whittington certainly has a shot at joining him with a solid senior campaign.

As a graduate of the 2019 class, Terry Whittington had the opportunity to play his redshirt senior season in his last year of eligibility at Alcorn State or go elsewhere. He chose elsewhere, but he leaves Alcorn State as one of the best and will look to continue to his journey to the NFL.


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