Jake Whitley became Georgia Tech's fifteenth commitment on September 4th, 2013, making him the first commitment after the season's start and paving the way for another commitment the following day. He stands at 6'4" and is listed at 295lbs and hails from North Augusta High School in North Augusta, SC -- just across the state line from Augusta, GA. He is the second OL in as many years from NAHS to sign on to play D-I football, after 2-star OL Parker Collins signed on with Appalachian State last year, and Whitley is the highest-rated prospect from NAHS since QB Lorenzo Hammonds in 2011. He is one of six OLs in this class, joining the already-profiled Jake Stickler, Michael Preddy, and Trey Klock. He signed with Georgia Tech over offers from Maryland, Marshall, and a handful of top-tier FCS programs such as Appalachian State.
Whitley's film shows a solid sample set, and yet is limited in a different way than those we've seen. Whitley's film is limited in that it shows him run-blocking almost exclusively, and from there most of his pass-blocking is on screen passes. That said, the lack of proven capacity for pass protection is hardly an issue in an offense like that of Georgia Tech. When run-blocking, Whitley is really solid. He shows a good understanding for when is appropriate to "bull-rush" block and knock defenders back, and when it's appropriate to help defenders to run themselves out of a play by redirecting them. The other thing Whitley does a lot in his film, and does well, is pulling around the edge on outside runs and squaring up to defenders, taking them out before the ballcarrier gets there. As mentioned in other profiles, Georgia Tech doesn't pull linemen much at all, but this translates by demonstrating mobility, which is a major need for our OL.
As for where Whitley fits in this year, it's going to be interesting to see. He comes in alongside 5 other OL, and he's the lowest-rated of the bunch. That said, he's joining an OL unit that by the end of last year was really, REALLY hurting for depth (pun intended). This year, we could see a lot of these freshman get playing time, especially if injuries are piling up again. If that's the case, Whitley playing will likely depend more on which position he's slotted at and who's been getting injured. He could be slotted at tackle, but with his mobility, run-blocking proficiency, and apparent lack of pass protection experience, I'm guessing Whitley ends up at guard. That puts him with Gary Brown behind 4 upperclassmen (assuming my positioning is correct), meaning worst-case is that there's an open door for one of them if an older guy gets injured. That said, Nick Brigham is one that I see playing guard, and there's no hard evidence at this point indicating that he'll be in front. Long story short? Whether or not Whitley's playing week 1, he'll have a shot to play at some point in the season based on the trends in recent seasons. In the long-term, there's no telling where Whitley will fit in -- but the one thing I will say is that while there are a lot of things you can teach, size isn't one of them. Whitley has some really solid size to play either guard or tackle, and that will only work to his favor at Georgia Tech.
Whitley is rated a 2-star prospect by Rivals (5.4) and a 3-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite (.8191).
Do Whitley's ratings bother you? Excited by his run-blocking abilities? Think he is a good fit?