Rams get preview of spring game with practice at Hughes Stadium
Rams prepare for scrimmage at Dove Valley
Higgins one of 17 players on exclusive list
Whitted to remain as wide receivers coach
Colorado State takes field for its second spring drills under Jim McElwain
Photos from Colorado State's fifth spring practice of 2015 (photos by Dan Byers)
Whitted played a key role in the recruitment and development of 2014 consensus first-team All-American Rashard Higgins, the Rams’ all-time leading receiver, who was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2016, as well as Joe Hansley, who signed a free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders. Hansley finished his CSU career ranked 10th all-time in receiving yards (1,873), playing all four years under Whitted’s tutelage.
The Rams’ receiving corps in 2015 played a key role in helping first-year starting quarterback Nick Stevens to set CSU sophomore passing records and earn second-team All-Mountain West honors. Higgins was named first-team All-MW, catching 75 passes for 1,062 yards (14.2) and eight touchdowns, and Hansley was first-team All-MW by Phil Steele with 28 receptions for 415 yards (14.8) and six touchdowns.
As a true sophomore in 2014 Higgins was named a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award while leading the nation in receiving yards (1,750) and receiving touchdowns (17) with his school-record 96 receptions. The first-team All-Mountain West wide receiver recorded a school-record 10 games with 100 or more yards in 2014.
The Rams’ wide receiver corps was outstanding in 2014, as Hansley (35-540-15.4, 2 TDs), redshirt freshman Xavier Williams (30-430-14.3, 3 TDs) and senior Charles Lovett (28-490-17.5, 3 TDs) provided dangerous targets for MW Offensive Player of the Year Garrett Grayson.
Whitted in 2013 helped develop one of the most improved position groups on the Rams’ roster. Under his tutelage Higgins set a CSU freshman receiving record with a team-high 68 catches for 837 yards and six touchdowns. Higgins’ 68 receptions ranked sixth by all players on CSU’s all-time single-season receptions list. As a sophomore Hansley also blossomed in his second season under Whitted, catching a career-high 52 passes for 613 yards and one touchdown.
In his first season at Colorado State, Whitted guided Lovett, then a sophomore, and senior Marquise Law to the best years of their careers. Lovett led the team with 35 receptions for 428 yards (12.2) and two touchdowns, while Law capped his collegiate career with 29 catches for 287 yards (13.3) and two scores, catching passes from three different starting quarterbacks because of injuries at the position.
Whitted (pronounced WHITT-id) came to Fort Collins in February 2012 after a brief stay at Appalachian State, following a year as offensive quality-control assistant on Rick Neuheisel’s UCLA staff in 2011. At UCLA, Whitted worked with wide receivers and special teams, and helped prepare the offense for games by heading the defensive scout team.
Before moving to Pasadena, Whitted spent the 2010 season at Division III Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., as wide receivers coach. There, he began to launch recruiting ties throughout the Southeastern U.S., and coached senior Michael Galatas, a first-team all-conference selection and the league Special Teams Player of the Year.
Following an impressive NFL playing career, Whitted began his coaching career as a high school assistant at his alma mater Orange High School in Hillsborough, N.C., from 2008-09.
Selected by Tom Coughlin and the Jacksonville Jaguars in the seventh round (192nd overall) of the 1998 NFL Draft, Whitted also played for the Atlanta Falcons (2001) and Oakland Raiders (2002-06). In addition to Coughlin, who would go on to win two Super Bowls, Whitted’s NFL head coaches included Dan Reeves, Norv Turner and Art Shell. He played under coaching staffs that included Dom Capers, Wade Phillips, Jim Harbaugh, Bobby Petrino, Frank Gansz and Dick Jauron.
Over a nine-year NFL career, Whittted played in 122 games with 24 starts, and caught 74 passes for 1,030 yards and six touchdowns. He also picked up 118 yards on 14 rushing attempts. As an occasional kickoff returner, he had 388 yards on 21 returns, including a 98-yard touchdown in 1999. A special-teams standout, he recorded 20 career coverage tackles. Whitted played in a pair of AFC championship games, with Jacksonville in 2000 and Oakland in 2002, and helped the Raiders to a berth in Super Bowl XXXVII following the ‘02 season. His finest season was his last, 2006, when he started 13 games and established career highs with 27 receptions and 299 receiving yards.
Whitted and Colorado State cornerbacks coach Terry Fair both entered the NFL in the 1998 Draft and played against one another in one game. On Dec. 6, 1998, Whitted’s Jaguars defeated Fair’s Detroit Lions 37-22 in Jacksonville. Fair made four tackles in the game while Whitted was credited with one rushing attempt for -1 yard.
A dominant return specialist at N.C. State (1994-97), he totaled 1,929 kickoff-return yards, No. 2 in school history at the time of his graduation, and currently third all-time. He owns two of the top 10 kickoff returns in Wolfpack annals, a 97-yard TD vs. Maryland in 1994 and a 96-yard score vs. Florida State in 1996.
Whitted’s N.C. State athletic contributions on the track in the spring were just as valuable. A world-class sprinter as a four-time All-American, he holds the school records in the 100, 200 and 400 meters. At the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials, he finished sixth in the 200. On two occasions, the Atlantic Coast Conference named him its most valuable performer, and seven times he won an individual conference title. After being drafted into the NFL, he graduated with the H.C. Kennett Award, the most prestigious honor given to an N.C. State athlete each year.
A native of Durham, N.C., Whitted competed in football and track at Orange High School in Hillsborough, N.C. He won the 100 and 200 meters at the North Carolina state championship.
Whitted graduated from North Carolina State in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in business management/finance. In the summer of 2014 he married Tracy Ljone, who served as a strength and conditioning coach and professor of sport management and health education at Colorado State. The couple is expecting their first child in 2016.
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