December 17, 2007

Whitlock ready to make quick transition

Charles Whitlock played the final high school football game of his career Saturday at the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas in Spartanburg.

By this time next month, he'll be a student at South Carolina.

Whitlock, the highest rated South Carolina commitment in the Shrine Bowl (Rivals ranks him as the fourth best prospect in the state and the No. 143 prospect nationally), is looking forward to getting a jump on his college football career.

By enrolling early, he'll participate in winter conditioning workouts and then spring practice, which is set to begin in mid-March. Whitlock said he wants to play as true freshman next fall.

"I think I'll have a pretty good jump on the other freshmen coming in (the summer)," Whitlock said. "(Coach Spurrier) has told me I have a good chance to come in and start if I really work my tail off."

Whitlock intends to try to make an impact at multiple positions on both sides of the ball, including wide receiver, defensive back and kick returner.

He's rated the No. 9 cornerback prospect in the nation by

"They've talked to me about cornerback, receiver and using me on special teams as a return man," Whitlock said recently. "It doesn't matter too much to me as long as I'm on the field. I'll help out wherever they need me."

Whitlock's final day at Chester High School is scheduled for Wednesday. He'll leave the school as one of the most celebrated athletes in its history along with Gamecock point guard Devan Downey, who was crowned Mr. Basketball in the Palmetto State in 2005.

"I'm pretty much done with high school," Whitlock said. "I have three days left. Then I'll report for orientation and enroll (at USC) and start working out."

Whitlock made one tackle and returned one kickoff in South Carolina's 31-24 victory over North Carolina in wet conditions at Gibbs Stadium on the campus of Wofford College.

"It was cold, it was wet, it was windy out there," Whitlock said. "But we had to fight through it. We had a pretty good week of practice. It had been up in the 70's and 80's all week. Coach told us to be prepared for the weather on Saturday. We practiced nine times this week. I never had so much fun in two a days."

Whitlock led Chester to the Class 3A Upper State championship this fall before the Cyclones fell to Wilson, 16-14, in the state title game at Williams-Brice Stadium two weeks ago.

Whitlock caught a 15-yard TD pass on the same field he'll call home for the next four years. He finished the state championship game with three receptions for 39 yards.

Scouts have been impressed throughout his high school career with Whitlock's explosiveness, superior quickness and outstanding change of direction skills.

Overall this season, Whitlock caught 23 passes for 418 yards, an impressive average of 18.2 yards per reception, rushed 77 times for 266 yards with five TD's and, while playing quarterback, managed to complete 63.7 percent (58 of 91) of his passes for 864 yards and 11 touchdowns with just three interceptions.

Whitlock took his official visit to USC in November and left Columbia convinced it was the best place him both academically and athletically.

"I definitely felt like I fit in with the environment around the program and the team itself," Whitlock said when his commitment was confirmed earlier this month. "My decision was based on where I felt most comfortable, and for me that was USC."

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