February 26, 2010

Intriguing ideas have Whitehead thinking

Jermaine Whitehead will attend Southern Miss' junior day on Sunday, and he expects an offer from the Golden Eagles.

That's just another reason these are exciting times for the cornerback from Greenwood (Amanda Elzy), Miss.

A prominent program not far removed from national success has been whispering sweet nothings in his ear, and something Ole Miss said on a recent junior day excursion to Oxford really resonated.

Whitehead, a 6-foot, 183-pounder who is on track to easily meet NCAA initial-eligibility academic requirements, has been getting consistent mail from Lane Kiffin's Trojans. Some of the verbiage has caught his eye.

"I was shocked, very shocked," Whitehead said, noting that USC indicated an offer could be forthcoming. "I haven't talked to them much. We sent my highlight tape and I'm sure they'll offer after they see my tape. They wrote me, telling me they think I'm one of the best players in the nation. The nation! That kicked some light bulbs in my head."

Whitehead said USC's ongoing dealings with the NCAA won't have any impact on his decision, one way or the other.

"I understand football is a business," Whitehead said. "They've been winners. I like the great things they've done."

Ole Miss, which recently joined Mississippi State as schools which have extended scholarship offers to Whitehead, has been dangling an interesting carrot in front of the versatile speedster. The Rebels have talked to Whitehead about playing both sides of the football at the college level, focusing on cornerback but participating in packages designed to showcase his skills with the ball in his hands.

"They've been saying how I might be able to play on both sides of the ball and that they don't want to have to play against me," Whitehead said. "I took it pretty seriously. When I went down there for junior day, they kept asking me, 'Are you sure about playing cornerback?' I'll do what they want me to do and what I need to do to help my team win. I'm down to do a lot of things."

Since attending a junior day in Oxford earlier this month, Whitehead has also attended a similar function at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs, who were first to offer a scholarship, made a favorable impression as well.

"It went great," Whitehead said. "I got to see a lot of things I've never seen at State. My favorite thing was talking with the coaches about life and things other than football."

Whitehead said he's "not really" close to anything resembling a decision. He said he plans to attend caps at Ole Miss, LSU, Tennessee and "hopefully" Alabama this summer.

"I'm giving all schools a fair shot but I'll start considering favorites after my baseball season, because I want to really think about my decision," Whitehead said.

Whitehead said he's even laid the groundwork for a pro-Ole Miss decision with family members with Mississippi State ties.

"Even though they have ties to State, they want me to go where I want to go and to where it's best for me," Whitehead said, laughing. "My cousin told me just the other day if she had to, she'd go to the game wearing a State jersey and a Jermaine Whitehead Ole Miss pin."

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