On Monday the love was flowing toward the big defensive lineman at WRHS even though he spurned the home-state Georgia Bulldogs to head west to play his college football for the Auburn Tigers.
"He is the best we have to offer at Warner Robins High School," Steve Monday, the school's principal, tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "He has character, he comes to school every day, he has had no discipline issues whatsoever.
"He has high, high character and a great work ethic," Monday adds. "The teachers absolutely adore him. As you can see by the response here today, the student body feels the same way. He is a wonderful young man and we are excited for him to be at Auburn. He feels at home at Auburn and he will do well."
For more than a half hour after his announcement that he was headed to Auburn, Whitaker posed for photos with school administrators, teachers, teammates, classmates and family members.
Warner Robins High coach Bryan Way is equally enthusiastic about Whitaker.
"He's a great kid and an outstanding football player and he is a lot better person than he is a football player," Way says. "Auburn is getting a high quality, high character young man. He is a tremendous leader, just a super guy. He is very, very special.
"He has been a pleasure not only to coach, but to get to know," the WRHS coach says. "He has probably taught me more than I have taught him. He is a very, very special young man."
Commenting on Whitaker's football ability, Way says, "He is a big kid. The good Lord blessed him with a lot of size, but he has got quickness and understands how to play the game. He is pretty hard to block now. He has improved greatly with his movement up and down the line of scrimmage, his pursuit and things like that since he has been here.
Coach Bryan Way left put on an Auburn hat for Jeffrey Whitaker's announcement of his college choice on Monday. The two share a laugh as Whitaker holds his nephew.
"He has just scratched his potential, but no matter how good a player he ever becomes he will always be a better person," Way says. "He is just a great, great kid. He is very respectful, very humble and appreciative of everybody who helps him out.
"He is just 17 years old and he won't be 18 until March," Way notes. "He is very mature. He knows where he wants to go and what he needs to do to get there. That is pretty unique for a 17-year-old kid."
Whitaker, who is rated as a four-star prospect by Scout.com, is the No. 11 ranked defensive tackle prospect in the country for the 2011 football signing class.
"Since I have been the head coach, he is by far the biggest recruit we have had and he has made it very easy on me," the coach says. "He is a straight shooter, he is very respectful and listened to what everybody had to say. He was straight-forward. When he didn't think they were on his list anymore he would call them and tell them and I?think the schools appreciated that about him."
The Warner Robins High principal says that Whitaker will be missed after he graduates. "There is nobody better than Jeffrey," Monday says. "He epitomizes what we are looking for in a student and athlete. He is a hard worker in the classroom and he has done everything we have asked him to do in the classroom and then some.
"He has developed as a football player beyond Coach Way's expectations," Love adds. "I can't say enough good things about Jeffrey and his whole family."