Better Know the Jacksonville Jaguars
Cornerback/Returner Brian Witherspoon
[Note by River City Rage, 06/16/08 1:44 AM EDT ]: Once again, Clodknocker has gone above and beyond the call of duty. He's interviewed Jaguars UFA Brian Witherspoon, who's certainly got the speed to play in the NFL. BCC gives a hearty thanks to both Brian and Clodknocker for the hard work!
Get to know Brian Witherspoon:
Brian was born and raised in the small town of Butler, Ala. He ran track and played football for Stillman College in Tuscaloosa. Stillman is a Division II college in the Southern Intercollegiate Conference. Rashod Moulton (Fort Valley State) and Drayton Florence (Tuskegee) are the only other players on the team to play in that conference.It is ironic that all three are competing for the cornerback position.
At Stillman he had the honor of becoming the college's first track and field NCAA Division II All-American in 2006 for running the 100 meter dash in 10:31 seconds at the national championships. In August of 2007, he was named to the pre-season first-team All-American Football Team by d2football.com. That made him the school's first two-sport All-American.
A player scouting report says that he is a natural athlete with blazing speed, and terrific hands with the ability to be a playmaker. To not have played against top competition, with the need to add weight, become stronger, and become a better tackler were other concerns. One report said he might be more of a track star playing football rather than the other way around. One said that he would be 'an intriguing developmental prospect who might be a perfect candidate for the practice squad'. That idea does not suit him at all. He was upset when he wasn't drafted and he will be upset again if he doesn't make the team. He feels his best chance is on special teams.
I asked how the OTA's had been going. He said the speed of the plays was not a problem as it is with other players, but the terminology was. I asked who was the most helpful. He named all the veteran backfield players. I asked who impressed him the most. The answer was Rashean Mathis. He said Rashean is a great playmaker, a great student of the game, and has fun doing it. He didn't know that Rashean was a co-host on a weekly Jaguar TV sports show. It is on Channel 4 (3 on cable) during the season
Why did he choose the Jaguars? First; He feels this is the team where he has the best chance to make the team. Second; He likes his position coaches; Donnie Henderson (backfield) and Joe Camillis (special teams). Three; The team is close and family-like and he enjoys playing golf and fishing with the guys.
On reaching the NFL:
All the hard work I've put in, and coming from a small area, my parents and all my friends are happy for me. I'm proud of myself. Realizing I actually have the chance to play in the NFL is pretty exciting.
Stillman Head Coach Greg Thomson on Brian's Speed:
"When I first got here, I didn't feel comfortable with the speed of our team. So I started testing the kids' speed. Our staff timed everyone on the team. When Brian ran his, I thought something was wrong with my clock. He ran it again, and the clock read the same thing. At that moment I told our coaches, ‘This man is fast.'
On being named a first team All-American despite missing games due to injury:
"It feels great getting this type of recognition, considering I missed the majority of the season because I was hurt. It just lets me know that all of the hard work has been paying off and this will definitely motivate me to work even harder this season."
Statistical Medley: (note: I only have numbers for 2007 and 2005)
2007 Kick Returns:
14 returns, 388 yards, 27.7 average, 1 TD, longest return 90 yards
2007 Punt Returns:
14 returns, 153 yards, 10.9 average, 1 TD, longest return 68 yards
2 Int, 18 ards, 9.0 average, 0 TD, longest return 13 yards
2007 defensive results
11 games played, 25 solo tackles, 6 asst, 2 passes defended, 7 passes defended, 1 forced fumble and THREE blocked kicks.
2005 Punt Returns:
2 returns, 61 yards, 30.5 average, 1 TD, longest return 51 yards
2005 Kick Returns:
7 returns, 148 yards, 21.1 average, 0TD, longest return 41
3 INT, 28 yards, 9.3 average, 0TD, longest return 17 yards
2005 Defensive results:
4 starts, 6 solo tackles, 1 assist,
A smooth natural athlete...Blazing fast with rare timed speed...Has an outstanding burst to break and recover when beat...Very fluid hips and flips them well....Great leaper...Terrific hands and can be a playmaker...Lots of potential as a return man.
Did not play against top competition...Isn't very strong or physical....Needs to bulk up and add weight...Sub par tackler...Struggles to get a jam at the line...Lacks top instincts and awareness..Is raw in terms of technique and will need a ton of work.
Why should he make the Roster?
Because he's deadly fast and a potential star in the return game. Witherspoon could replace Maurice Jones-Drew on kick returns and supplement Dennis Northcutt as a punt returner. All this while slowly developing into a NFL level cornerback. Of course, all of this sounds well and good in June, but the roster math is difficult for Brian. His only reasonable shot for making the roster is as a returner, as the field at cornerback is simply too tight for a UFA without strong special teams credentials. We'll look more at the numbers game later this summer, but for now, know that it's an uphill fight.
I hope Brian keeps his head in the game if he does become a part of the Jaguars practice squad. He's a developing talent, not pro-ready on day one. I will not knock his skills in the slightest, but for our roster right now, he's best as a jar on the shelf. I'd love to be surprised though.