Playing at one of the better schools in the hotbed that is football in the state of Florida, Julian Whigham understands the conception associated with being an athlete from the Sunshine State. He says it's an advantage both on and off of the field.
"Being a Florida guy, I feel like I have an advantage over a Northeastern or a West Coast athlete because the competition (in Florida) makes for great football," Whigham said. "I remember when I was in camp (at SU), and people started hearing that I was from Florida and they were excited. Makes you feel good."
Whigham has lived up to the expectations of a player from the region thus-far in his senior season, registering five interceptions in the team's first four games. The Dwyer High School standout said he has played both safety and cornerback this season, and the team has plans to play him at wideout going forward – But Whigham maintains he is more focused on the defensive side of the ball. His interception goals paint a clearer picture:
"I have five picks in four games, and I've always wanted to see if I can have 10 picks in a season," he explained. "I expect double-digits in picks."
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Whigham has good range as a safety and he has been putting in extra work with the coaching staff to fine-tune his cornerback skills. But for now, he admits that roaming as a safety and being responsible for ½ of the field at times is more to his liking.
"I'm more comfortable playing safety, because I have played it longer," Whigham said. "Corner is relatively new to me. The coaches have been helping me out, understanding where I need to be."
The kid gets it
Whigham knows he has some work to do on the field in terms of being ready to take his talents to the Division I level, but he also understands that it is a process. He said he has made considerable strides mentally when comparing his junior year to the 2011 campaign.
"I have come a long way," Whigham added. "I have grown to understand offenses and route combinations. I understand where I need to be to make a play on the ball. It's been my biggest strength from a coaching standpoint."
Whigham admits that his smaller frame is an area he needs to improve on before suiting up in the Carrier Dome, and he plans to work on that after the season.
"I want to add weight and build my frame, safeties are a bit thicker and it will help in tackling," Whigham said.
The mention of playing at Syracuse excited the prospect, and he had this message for his future onlookers: "To the SU fans, expect a great player to come into your program and expect great things to come when I get on campus. "
Not only does Whigham focus on improving on the field before his arrival, but he is hard on himself in the classroom as well. He wants to study Journalism at SU, in the prestigious Newhouse School – something that only helped in his decision to commit to Syracuse. The Dwyer product has taken a pair of advanced placement courses in English already and he plans to enroll in a newspaper class before graduation.
"When I made my decision to come to Syracuse, my mom made sure it was something I was sure about," he said. "I am excited to be apart of the Newhouse School, and to be on board with coach (Doug) Marrone."
Whigham also understands that more schools may look his way if he continues to snag interceptions, but he maintains his loyalty to Syracuse because of the initial interest the coaches showed in him.
"You guys didn't want me then, so why would you want me now," Whigham said of schools who may show late interest.