It's All Right For Wilhite As Newcomer Contributes

First-year Auburn cornerback Jonathan Wilhite got to show what he can do vs. Mississippi State.

Auburn, Ala.--After spending opening night in a limited role on special teams, new Auburn defensive back Jonathan Wilhite stepped into a bigger role in game two.

The 5-11, 171 sophomore played a major role in Auburn's 28-0 victory over Mississippi State. He made two tackles and was credited with two deflected passes, including a leaping play that brought the crowd at Jordan-Hare Stadium to its feet when QB Omarr Conner tried to throw the ball deep over Wilhite's head.

"I am ready for the challenge, I am just ready to compete," said Wilhite, who had many strong days in preseason drills, but wasn't consistent enough to earn a starting spot. "Coach (David Gibbs) tells me that I have to practice like I play. I practiced hard this week and I guess that it showed in the game."

Wilhite played well in his first game action for the Auburn Tigers.

Last year at this time, Wilhite was the star of the secondary at Butler County Community College in Kansas. He said it was a big adjustment playing in front of small crowds to playing at Jordan-Hare Stadium. "I had to learn to play in front of a loud crowd," he said. "It was great out there. I had a lot of fun and I enjoyed trying to make some plays for our team.

"Being the top guy at corner on my junior college team to coming here and having to back up somebody (David Irons) last week was a big change," Wilhite said. "But, football is all about the team. Whatever I can do to help Auburn football, that is what I am going to do. If it is backing up somebody, I am going to do that. Our coaches are going to make good decisions."

Defensive coordinator and secondary coach Gibbs went to the bench early and often for substitutes vs. the Bulldogs and the cornerback spot was no exception. Patrick Lee got his second start as did Irons. Montae Pitts also saw extensive playing time at the position and Zach Gilbert, a walk-on who played extensively last year, saw his first playing time in 2005.

"I think playing a lot of guys helps the team a lot because it keeps fresh legs out there," Wilhite said. "It was a hot game and it gave us a chance to get our twos in there to see what they could do. Sometimes you are going to need your twos to play well. It looked like everybody played pretty well out there today."

The Tigers limited MSU to 10 first downs and 207 total yards.

Auburn now has two weeks to tune up the defense even more before returning to SEC play on Oct. 1st vs. South Carolina. Next up for the Tigers are a pair of home games vs. Ball State and Western Kentucky.

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