Golden: Can Whittington overcome injury history to emerge as a consistent Texas playmaker?
Horns play at Arkansas Saturday.
- Whittington caught seven passes for 113 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's 38-18 win over Louisiana.
- Whittington has battled assorted injuries in his first two seasons but looked healthy and explosive Saturday.
- The former five-star recruit won a Class 4A state title at Cuero before signing with Texas.
Dare we dream, Jordan Whittington fans?
So many times the wideout has dazzled in the spring, only to fall victim to the injury bug in the fall.
Whittington can play. That’s never been the issue.
Staying on the field? Another challenge altogether.
Whittington showed us the full bag in Saturday’s opener. Great hands. Crisp route running — he put Louisiana linebacker Ferrod Gardner on skates with a devastating, ankle-breaking stop-and-go move on a third-down crossing route in the second quarter — and those all-important yards after contact.
The sophomore’s catch and run early in the third quarter didn’t end until he had broken three tackles and dragged a fourth Louisiana player 5 yards downfield before being dragged down after 41 yards.
“It’s just a fire that burns inside me that wants do whatever I can to help this team win,” Whittington said. “So it was on display right there.”
The 6-foot-1, 203-pound receiver has baller in his DNA. His uncle Arthur was a running back who played five NFL seasons and won a Super Bowl with the Oakland Raiders, and his brother Quincey played at SMU.
Over the past two seasons, Whittington has caught 23 passes for 223 yards, but Saturday felt like a belated coming-out party after the former five-star recruit from Cuero gobbled up 113 yards on seven catches, including his first career touchdown reception in the 38-18 win.
He played only two games as a freshman in 2019 before a groin injury put him on the shelf. He appeared in five last season, but leg and abdominal injuries conspired against him. He did return for the Alamo Bowl win over Colorado and caught three passes for 35 yards while running for another 20.
Coach Steve Sarkisian raved in the spring about Whittington’s physicality and his instincts for the game, so to see him and quarterback Hudson Card speaking the same football language when plays broke down … it didn’t go unnoticed by the man in charge.
“He recognizes coverages,” Sarkisian said. “He can sit down in zones. He can feel when a quarterback starts to scramble. So I’m really happy for him. I know this has been a really long journey to get to this point. To come out and be healthy and play that first game the way he did is a really big moment for him.”
The receiving corps was an area of concern in camp because the Horns are just not as experienced at the position. Joshua Moore has shown what he can do in the past, but that second seat was a question mark. If Saturday was any indication, the Horns have a bona fide receiving duo, that is, if Whittington can put those past pesky injuries in the rear view.
The new Big 12: The Big 12 made some nice picks with the reported additions of Cincinnati, BYU, Central Florida and Houston. Question is, when are these schools coming?
It would make the most sense for the league to arrive at an agreement with outgoing Texas and Oklahoma after this season so all parties — the Big 12, the SEC, ESPN, etc. — can get on with their lives and make the future happen as soon as possible. In other words, make this the last season we see this version of the Big 12.
No one likes a lame duck, let alone two.
The grant of television rights agreement is set to expire in 2025, and Texas and Oklahoma would face fines of $80 million each if they left before next season, but that’s what the lawyers are for.
The sides should hammer out an agreement sooner than later. Make it happen.
Amicable works better than animosity at this point. Why go through a divorce and be forced to live with the person who no longer loves you?
Texas ex Matthews joins The Horn: I had a nice elevator chat postgame with Texas ex Will Matthews, who's in his first season as the sideline reporter for The Horn's radio broadcasts.
Matthews, a Westwood grad who played fullback and blocked for Vince Young and Cedric Benson in the 2005 Rose Bowl win over Michigan, replaces Quan Cosby for 104.9 games. In recent years he has advocated in the fight against mental illness and spoken out against racial injustice, but his latest gig will be on the game he loves.
Matthews chuckled when I reminded him of his senior season when he informed the media that he had dropped 30 pounds in the offseason by eliminating ranch dressing from his diet.
“I had to do something,” said Matthews, who is walking around 220 pounds these days. “I was getting fat!”
Matthews was always a great personality during his playing days. I’m looking forward to his perspective on game days.
A special lady: This column is dedicated to Ora Mae Owens-Curtis, who passed away on Aug. 29 in Tyler. My aunt was my first true friend from the crib and always looked out for me, from replacing the homecoming dance tickets I lost as a ninth grader to teaching me the value of generosity and respect for others. She was a wonderful human being.
An avid college football fan, she would call me at all hours to talk about the sport she loved.
Nicknamed “Weezy” by the kids at Bishop T.K. Gorman High during her decade as the owner of the school snack bar in the 1970s and 1980s — she bore a resemblance to Isabel Sanford, who played Louise “Weezy” Jefferson on the popular sitcom "The Jeffersons" — she was the most popular person on that campus. My Q rating was automatically elevated in the hallways by virtue of being her nephew.
My favorite college football fan has the best seat in the house now.
Enjoy the games, Auntie.