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Brandon Whittington feature from Phila. Inquirer

Posted by Geoff Filinuk on Sep 23 2002 at 05:00PM PDT
Posted on Tue, Sep. 24, 2002 Sam Carchidi | Collingswood football novice looks more like a natural He has played only two varsity football games, but Collingswood High junior Brandon Whittington already looks like one of the area's premier college prospects. Not bad for someone who was Collingswood's leading soccer scorer last fall. Not bad for someone who did not decide to play football until the day before practices started last month. Not bad for someone who is still learning the nuances of the game. "He has unbelievable athletic ability," Collingswood coach Bob Barikian said yesterday. "And he's going to get better each week." Whittington is an acrobatic 6-foot-3, 195-pound junior wide receiver who has graceful moves, soft hands, and the uncanny ability to catch anything thrown in his general vicinity. Even with a defender draped on his back. Collingswood dropped a 51-0 decision to West Deptford on Friday, but Whittington looked like the best player on the field. He caught seven passes for 137 yards, but that does not begin to tell the story. With great concentration, Whittington somehow caught two passes that were deflected, and he took advantage of his long arms to make a handful of leaping catches in traffic. Whittington played football as a freshman, but suffered a broken hand and decided to play soccer as a sophomore. "He's a very good basketball player," Barikian said, "and he didn't want to take a chance of getting hurt and missing basketball." A day before Collingswood's football practices started this year, Whittington approached Barikian and asked if he could join the football team. Barikian, aware of the junior's big-play ability, took about a half-second to respond. Whittington is Collingswood's go-to player. He had two catches for 112 yards, including the game-winning 70-yard hookup with Kyle Stoy, as the Panthers started their season with a 12-9 win over Haddon Heights. That was followed by his highlight-reel performance in the blowout loss at West Deptford. "There are a lot of things he's still learning," Barikian said. "We're teaching him the proper steps, how to run routes and get space. He doesn't have the game experience yet, where he can get a defender behind him. There was an interception [by West Deptford] where, if we can get him to get his body in front of the defender, it wouldn't have been picked off. "But he's a glider and he's got great speed and great ability."

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