Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Brandon Whitaker A Man On A Mission With The Alouettes

In professional sports an athlete is best remembered for their last play.

In the case of Montreal Alouettes running back, Brandon Whitaker, his last play was an incomplete third down pass from Anthony Calvillo to him in overtime loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

As a result, the many errors created by the Alouettes ended their hopes of vying for a third consecutive Grey Cup title.

Just like his “2-Way” nickname, there are two directions Whitaker could have taken going into the offseason. One path, he could have sulked, and never erase the memory of the play. Or he takes the other road and uses it as motivation to fuel his desire in helping the Alouettes to a Grey Cup victory.

Whitaker has already defied the odds of being a CFL player. Initially, when he joined the organization in 2008, he was in a yo-yo situation being released twice during the season.

Generally, an import player who has gone through what Whitaker experienced would be fed up by this and go back home.

However, there he was grinding away in hopes of one day garnering an opportunity to be a contributor in any possible way. As the 2009, and 2010 Grey Cup championship seasons progressed, Whitaker patiently waited as his mentor, and a player he calls big brother in Avon Cobourne was the backbone of the most potent offense in the CFL.

In the winter of 2011, when Cobourne signed with the Tiger-Cats, on my radio show, he said watch out for Whitaker. “He has it all, the team won’t miss a step, and he will beat out the competition to be the starter”.

Even though management signed former NFL star, Ahman Green, Yveson Bernard, and had Emmanuel Marc on their roster. It seemed that the competition would be stiff.

There were some pundits believing that Green could be in the mold of former Alouette players in Autry Denson, and Robert Edwards and provide a one year stop gap.

Green never made it to the first day of camp, and Whitaker continued on. As he fought his way in earning first team reps during training sessions and preseason games.

In the week one battle against the B.C. Lions, everyone forgot about the camp competition, and laid eyes on Whitaker’s effort as he ran for 119 yards on 17 carries in the victory.

In some cases, after a one game performance, players will believe in their hype thinking it will be easy street. Not Whitaker, who throughout the season stayed humbled, focused, and always deflected any praises bestowed on him.

He always credited the coaches, Calvillo, and his teammates for putting him in this position to be a lethal threat. Most importantly, he never forgot to mention Cobourne, and how important he is in his professional career.

To show how valuable Whitaker is in this offense, the team was 9-2 when he averaged double digits in rushing attempts. On the other hand, they were 1-6 when he had less than 10 carries a game.

Whitaker’s impact was greatly felt when he had 20 or more total touches on the football. The Alouettes offense averaged 35.5 points per game. His production average was 9.4 yards per touch, and had 181.5 total yards per game, and more importantly the team was 6-0.

In the other four victories, Whitaker averaged 15.75 football touches. However, he only averaged 6 yards per touch, and his total yards per game dramatically reduced in half to 90.5, and the offense was hovering around 31.25 points per game.

A lot of fans sent me questions on why Whitaker was not more involved in the offense. But considering who is teammates are; in Brian Bratton, S.J. Green, and Jamel Richardson and their fantastic seasons they each had. It is impressive the numbers he racked up given how prolific this offense is.

No one can take away Whitaker’s season as he finished with 1,381 rushing yards, and had 638 receiving yards. To date, no CFL running back has ever had 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season. Could Whitaker go where no man has gone before?

After last year's final team media session was completed with the cameras and microphones turned off. I remember from a distance looking at Whitaker, and his sullen facial and body expression said it all. But seeing him how he was, I realized, this is someone who will learn from this and come back a better player.

For those who follow Whitaker on Twitter have known he has been ready to go since that semi-final loss in November. This year he could become the most dangerous weapon on the Alouettes roster since a lot of attention will be on his cohorts in Bratton, Green, and Richardson.

But more importantly, as a person, if anyone gets the honour of conversing 100 different times with Whitaker, you will come away impressed learning something new about him every time.

It has been 128 days since the team’s last loss, training camp starts in 76 days, and in 258 days the CFL will crown another champion.

Whitaker will most certainly have these dates circled, he has one goal in-mind, and that is to help this team winning the Grey Cup.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Friday morning on The Midnight Snack from midnight-2am, every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, and various shows on TSN 990.

Photo credit: uk.eurosport.yahoo.com

1 comment:

  1. well to start off with I wasn't sure brandon was the answer at RB to replace little ac last year but thankfully I was 100% wrong!! if "we" can tighten up the "D" and find a return man and with our offence I see the "BEASTS OF THE EAST" back in control of the eastern conference!!