New Defensive Back Shows Promise For Tigers

Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite and his coach discuss the first-year Tiger's progress.

Auburn, Ala.--Jonathan Wilhite's first opportunity to play cornerback for Auburn was a successful one.

The sophomore's position coach, David Gibbs, says that Auburn football fans can expect to see more of the sophomore junior college transfer who contributed to Auburn's 28-0 victory over Mississippi State.

"I have said all along he was in the competition for a starting spot with Patrick Lee and Montae Pitts," says Gibbs, who doubles as defensive coordinator. "He just needed some reps. Because he missed spring ball he was a little bit behind mentally. Now he has caught up and he is an active player.

"Everytime he goes out there he makes plays," Gibbs adds. "He has the confidence to do it. The more he plays, the better he will get."

Wilhite says he enjoyed the chance to participate after having to watch from the sidelines in game one as the secondary faced Georgia Tech.

"I did pretty good," he says. "Coach talked to me about what I need to do to improve. Even when a player does good in a game, the coach is always going to be critical. They were real critical about it, but I am going to take the criticism in a good way because it is only going to make me better.

"I think I played a good game," Wilhite adds. "Coach also thinks I played a good game, but we have better teams coming up in the future and he wants to get me better."

Wilhite, who was playing in junior college football last fall in Kansas, says he feels like he got into the swing of things soon after he got into the action last Saturday. "I was mostly nervous the first play when I first went out, but I just tried to be competitive, play to the best of my ability, take care of my assignment and help the team."

If he plays a significant amount of time in week three as Auburn takes on the Ball State Cardinals, his assignment will likely be preventing passes from being completed because BSU is expected to throw a lot on Saturday. That is music to Wilhite's ears.

"I like to play passing teams," he notes. "I like covering. It is going to show whether you can play or not. I always like to play passing teams and it is going to help me get better."

Commenting on the Cardinals, the cornerback says, "They have a talented quarterback and some talented receivers. Like Coach Tubs says, we aren't going to look down on any team. We are going to go out and play our game. A good defensive back is going to play at his best no matter who he is playing."

Despite getting a shutout vs. Mississippi State, Wilhite says the defense can improve.

"There is always room for improvement," he says. "I think we can get a lot better from defensive linemen all the way to the secondary. We are trying to get better and we are trying to get back to the Georgia Dome to play for the SEC Championship and you can't take a day off if you want to do that."

Jonathan Wilhite played on special teams in week one, but against Mississippi State he got a chance to show his pass receiving skills.

Wilhite says he enjoys the challenge of practice when he gets to work against Auburn's wideouts. "We have some great receivers and when you are going against them you always got to know you are going against the best," he says.

"Courtney Taylor, Devin (Aromashodu), Ben (Obomanu) and (Anthony) Mix are going to try to get you better," he says. "They are not going to cut any slack on you. Whether you are a veteran or a rookie they are going to go hard everytime. You have to have your A-game everytime you go against them."

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