College football predictions: Whittemore's transfer from Florida right move in a tough business
In an ideal orange-and-blue world, Whittemore would’ve been a big cog in the UF’s offense. In the cutthroat world that football can be, he simply became a casualty of competition.
His role as slot receiver was taken over by Ricky Pearsall, who transferred from Arizona State. After starting eight games and catching 19 passes last year, Whittemore had four catches going into last week’s final home game against South Carolina.
A stellar student, he’d gotten his sports management degree in three years. Participating in Senior Day was bittersweet.
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Whittemore starred at Buchholz High, where his father runs one of the best programs around. His mother played volleyball for UF, where four generations of Whittemores have gone to school. Trent grew up dreaming of making a name for himself at Florida Field.
“I’ve been a Gator for as long as I can remember,” he wrote in his Twitter announcement.
Now he’ll be a Something Else. Maybe a Bulldog from Mississippi State. That’s where his younger brother and current Buchholz star Creed is going. He flipped there after first committing to UF.
Would the Whittemore exodus be happening if Billy Napier wasn’t the coach? Maybe. Maybe not.
Napier’s job is to put the best product he can on the field. UF’s staff decided the offense is better with Pearsall and others getting more reps.
Whittemore decided he’d be better off spending the next two years elsewhere.
There’s always attrition when a new coach comes in, and the transfer portal has greased the process. About a half-dozen players have entered it, and more are on the way out. Conversely, more Pearsalls are on the way in.
“We’re living in a different world,” Napier said. “When we took over there at Louisiana, the portal didn’t exist.”
True enough, though one part of the football world will never change. It’s fundamentally based on competition, not sentimentality. And no matter how hard we wish, not every dream is going to come true.
On a less dour note, my dream of going 10-0 in the weekly picks was again dashed last week. The tally was 7-3, though I should’ve been penalized three extra games for picking Texas A&M to beat Auburn or anybody else.
Whitley's predictions for this week
Florida at Vanderbilt: Should UF fans be worried? The Commodores just snapped a 26-game SEC streak. Billy Napier refused to allow players to discuss the Nashville weather, which is supposed to be pretty nippy. I’m under no such restrictions, so I predict You-Know-Where will freeze over before Vandy wins two SEC games in a row. Florida 27-13.
Georgia at Kentucky: The Wildcats were Vanderbilt’s streak-snapping victims last week. I haven’t checked, but I’m pretty sure no team has ever lost to Vandy and beaten the nation’s top-ranked team the next week. Georgia 30-12.
Tennessee at South Carolina: It’s a homecoming for Jalin Hyatt, the SEC’s top receiver who went to high school 20 miles from South Carolina’s campus. But then-coach Will Muschamp has a policy against recruiting players who can score (See: Florida 2010-2013). Expect retribution. Tennessee 48-17
Austin Peay at Alabama: Speaking of You-Know-Where freezing over, Old Testament forecasters are predicting a blizzard if the Governors stay within 50 points of the Crimson Tide. Alabama 53-13.
Hellish Trivia: How hot is it? Using Bible passages, the Stefan-Boltzmann fourth power of radiation and other factors I can’t even begin to comprehend, a 1998 article in “Physics Today” determined the temperature of Hell is 830 degrees. But there’s no humidity.
Winona State at Bemidji State: You think it’ll be cold in Nashville on Saturday? The high in Bemidji is expected to be an unspeakable 10 degrees. Multiply that by the Stefan-Boltzmann radiation quotient, add nine straight wins by our favorite team, and the nation’s top physicists are all in on the Beavers. Bemidji State 18-12.
Where is Lane Kiffin going to land?
Ole Miss at Arkansas: The Rebels are coming off a disheartening loss to Alabama. Lane Kiffin is supposedly sniffing around about the Auburn job. The Razorbacks are way overdue for a good game. Smells like the Upset of the Week. Arkansas 24-21.
East Tennessee State at Mississippi State: I’m too lazy to research this clunker, and there are a lot of them this week. So let’s roll them all but one into one combo pick:
Mississippi State, Missouri, LSU and Auburn 203; East Tennessee State, New Mexico State, UAB and Western Kentucky 47.
Weather Update: Physicists predict Nick Saban's forehead will reach 830 degrees if Austin Peay beats Alabama.
UMass at Texas A&M: I don’t care if Jimbo Fisher has an $860-million buyout. If the Aggies lose their seventh straight game against a 1-9 team from the school that counts Bill Cosby as an alum, he should be flipping burgers at the Bemidji Dairy Queen on Monday morning. Texas A&M 36-6.
David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DavidEWhitley