Get to Know: Brad WhitakerLayne Cameron
Get to Know:
Start Date: 1999
Brad Whitaker isn’t in the Football Hall of Fame. But he did tackle a Hall-of-Famer (almost).
Brad played defensive tackle for the Indiana State University Sycamores. He played plenty of teams around the country, but it’s the 1988 “money game” that he remembers most.
Small schools, like ISU, accept invitations and paydays to travel to play top-tier teams. Sure, they’d get their butts kicked, but the school could help finance much of its sports programs for the year.
In 1988, the Sycamores’ money game was at the Swamp against the University of Florida Gators.
“We were blown away when we toured their facilities. They had practice helmets and game helmets,” Brad says. “All we had was an extra pair of turf shoes that were locked up until game day, but they had a wall of shoes for the players.”
In the ‘80s, the Gators were a perennial powerhouse. They had multiple NFL prospects, including sophomore Emmitt Smith. The future Dallas Cowboy and NFL Hall of Famer was averaging 120 yards per game and just completed a storied freshman year, finishing 9th in Heisman balloting.
The Heisman candidate and the Gators whooped the Sycamores 58-0 that day. It’s not the lopsided drubbing, though, that Brad remembers. The memory that’s etched in his mind is the time he got to go one-on-one with Emmitt.
He remembers the line of scrimmage opening and seeing Emmitt sprinting straight toward him. No one was blocking Brad, and he began to anticipate the elation of tackling the Gator’s star running back.
“I was in the perfect ready position: crouched down, head up, and arms forward,” Brad remembers. “I went to grab him … and completely whiffed. He cut and posed just like the Heisman Trophy and left me in the grass.”
Brad was one of the many defensive casualties that day as Emmitt racked up 109 yards and one touchdown.
Even though Brad and his team couldn’t stop Emmitt, he’s in our Hall of Fame, as our all-star chief estimator.