After Arrest, Whitaker's Hokies Career Appears Over
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Ike Whitaker's career at Virginia Tech, which began with high expectations before taking several turbulent turns, appears to be finished.
Whitaker, whom Coach Frank Beamer suspended indefinitely last week, said that his suspension is "unfair" and that he has "been lied to" by the Hokies' coaching staff. Whitaker's suspension was announced Thursday by the team in a news release that said he violated team policies. Later Thursday night, Whitaker was arrested for public intoxication outside a popular Blacksburg bar.
Whitaker, a Germantown native and the 2004 All-Met Offensive Player of the Year at quarterback, said he missed a 7 a.m. receivers meeting Wednesday, a transgression he said typically carries a punishment of extra running. Whitaker said Beamer suspended him three hours after the meeting and told the redshirt junior he could stay on scholarship this year to earn his degree and recommended he transfer to another school for his final year of athletic eligibility.
Whitaker acknowledged responsibility for missing the meeting and said he deserves a consequence, but not one so harsh.
"It [stinks]; I was mad and there's nothing I can do about it," Whitaker said. "Several people miss meetings and don't get suspended. I think it was unfair. I should never have gotten suspended. If we miss classes or meetings, we got to run."
Through a team spokesman, Beamer said he had no further comment on Whitaker's suspension beyond the initial news release. Earlier this season, when Whitaker lost playing time to freshman Jarrett Boykin, Beamer attributed the decision in part to Whitaker's having missed a team meeting and a study hall. Whitaker, who as a 19-year-old redshirt freshman missed the Hokies' appearance in the 2006 Chick-fil-A Bowl to enroll in an alcohol rehabilitation program, acknowledged yesterday his past transgressions might have influenced the severity of his most recent punishment.
Whitaker said that since former quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers and former receivers coach Tony Ball departed Virginia Tech, he has been "thrown under the rug" by the current coaching staff.
"I've been lied to," Whitaker said. "Those were the two main guys who had me coming to Virginia Tech."
At 11:17 p.m. Thursday, Whitaker was observed trying to start a fight outside a popular Blacksburg bar, according to Sgt. Nathan O'Dell of the Blacksburg police. The report said Whitaker's associates attempted to restrain him but he attempted to break free and grab the person with whom he was arguing. The arresting officer brought him into custody for public intoxication because his speech was slurred and unclear and there was a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and his person. A preliminary breath test registered his blood alcohol content at .33.
Whitaker said he was upset over his suspension and did not have anywhere to turn.
"I've been through stuff, and this was just another thing in the paper about being suspended," Whitaker said. "I was hurt, I didn't know how else to handle it but to go out" and drink.
Whitaker also made it clear that he takes responsibility for the arrest.
"Ever since I got suspended Wednesday, it got bad," Whitaker said. "Thursday everyone goes out. Since I got on the team, I haven't really gone out Thursday. I wasn't on the team. It just got bad from there. It was due to me being suspended. I was mad."
When he chose Virginia Tech over Maryland in 2004, Whitaker was one of the top quarterback recruits in the nation after leading Northwest to the Maryland 3A state championship.
In March 2006, he was arrested for underage possession of alcohol, destruction of property and public intoxication. The charges were dropped, but the court ordered him to undergo outpatient counseling. He was suspended for part of spring practice.
Later that year, Whitaker checked himself into the Mount Regis Center in Salem, Va., where he received treatment for alcoholism for 27 days.
With highly touted freshman Tyrod Taylor joining returning starter Sean Glennon at quarterback, Whitaker moved to receiver in the preseason. Last season, he had three catches for 17 yards playing behind four seniors.
With those seniors gone, Whitaker expected to have a major role in the offense this season and said the coaches indicated that would be the case. But when the season came, Whitaker found himself behind freshmen on the depth chart.
"Don't sit and tell me I'm going to play when I'm not going to play," Whitaker said.
He caught three passes for 14 yards in the season opener but Boykin supplanted Whitaker as the second-string split end by the third game.
"If I can go back and do it again two years ago, I would have transferred when they moved me to wide receiver," Whitaker said, "knowing what I know now, which is me not being on the team anymore and all the stuff here."
Whitaker said his plan is to finish the year at Virginia Tech and graduate, then try to play his final year elsewhere at quarterback.
"I'm going to bounce back from this," he said. "It's not too late."