Catching Up with Bill Whittemore

Current Arena Football League Nashville Kats quarterback and former KU standout Bill Whittemore popped down to Pittsburg this week to help out as a camp counselor at the Aaron McConnell football camp.

Bill Whittemore said he had been paying attention to how KU was doing, and attended the Toledo and Colorado games last year.

“I love the direction the program is going in,” Whittemore said. “I think they just keep getting better and better. They have a lot of guys returning on “O” and a lot of guys returning on D. I think the “D” will be real good and the “O” has a chance to be good.

“I really think that we’ll shock some people this year,” he said. “That team is a lot better than people give them credit for.”

Kansas fans who complained about Kansas’s quarterback play last year came this close to having Whittemore back as last year’s quarterback. Whittemore said that as a freshman at Tennessee-Martin, he was hurt. “Imagine that,” he said.

Whittemore would have been available for a medical redshirt, meaning that he could have entered Fort Scott Community College as a freshman eligibility-wise, with the ability to transfer to Kansas as a sophomore. But Whittemore was brought back and played the last game of the season.

NCAA eligibility rules state that for a player to receive a red shirt, he may play in the first three games of the season, but may not play in any games afterward. If a player doesn’t feel that those terms are fair, he may petition on an individual basis, but not with a high level of success.

But Whittemore said to give the quarterbacks a little more time.

“It took me a year to really know what I was doing,” Whittemore said. “It was much different my senior year compared to my junior year. Somebody’s got to step up though.”

Whittemore said he didn’t play much in the AFL last year, and that the situation was frustrating, but that he was still learning the nuances of the Arena game, such as increased speed and a smaller field to put the ball. He said that he hoped for more playing time next year, because while the two quarterbacks from last year’s roster return, “I’ll be better.”

The experience has been different for Whittemore, who not only started at Kansas, but won Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year as a junior college transfer and was named third-team All-Big 12 by the coaches behind Heisman winning QB Jason White and record-setting B.J. Symons.

His exploits and heady playing style quickly pushed him into the realm of fan favorite, complete with Heisman Trophy signs and even a Heisman website.

“That’s the sort of thing that you don’t really necessarily notice when you’re there,” Whittemore said. “You’re too honed in on what you need to do. On what’s on the field. But when you get away from it, you remember. I miss the heck out of that stuff.”

Whittemore also talked about his attempts to break into the NFL. Whittemore spent a month and a half this year with the New York Jets, and last year he was picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Atlanta Falcons.

“I just try to soak everything in,” Whittemore said. “I have a blast when they have me up there. The Atlanta shot there was pretty much no chance, and there also wasn’t much of one in New York. But I like sitting in those meetings and trying to learn as much as I can. Hopefully I’ll get a better shot.”

While Whittemore said he enjoyed spending time in the NFL camps, and looked forward to a possible invitation to Europe, he said that he was looking forward to coaching at some point.

“Obviously, I’d still like to make the NFL, but my chances aren’t getting much better -- they’re dwindling,” Whittemore said. “I would like to get into coaching. If the right opportunity came along -- I’d really have to think about maybe hanging it up.”

Whittemore also left no secrets about where he would like to coach.

“I’d like to give the college coaching thing a try and see how it goes,” Whittemore said. “I’d love to go back to Kansas and coach with coach Mangino and coach Quartaro. That would be a great place to be.”

Camp facts:

  • How’s this for one-on-one help? The three-day camp, which features players of all ages, had just one quarterback in attendance, a high school student that McConnell said was from Chanute. The player has worked by himself with Whittemore for the past few days, although Whittemore has also helped out with the running backs.
  • McConnell said the players worked on all of the college and pro tests, from agility drills to 40-yard dashes to help the players test better. The players also spent time working on unique positional drills while learning elusiveness and change of direction skills on Tuesday.
  • This is the first camp put on by McConnell, and it seemed pretty well organized. McConnell said he hopes the camp will grow, and that he will try to make it an annual event. Since McConnell’s season runs from January to June, the camp is planned by his brother-in-law, who is a coach at Girard.
  • McConnell was a star player down at Pittsburg State University and is Whittemore’s teammate on the Nashville Kats.

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