Countryside (Clearwater, Fla.) receiver/outside linebacker Kee Whetzel’s Christmas break began Dec. 19, and the 6-foot-3, 187-pounder and his family decided to take a little warm-weather vacation – even though their home happens to be in a vacation spot to begin with.
“I guess that would be kind of weird to most people,” said a chuckling Whetzel from Miami Beach, where he’ll be spending the next couple weeks until school begins again. “But it’s always good to get away for a little bit. Miami is fun.”
Whetzel was actually at the movies seeing the new Star Wars with his younger brother Dec. 20 when his cellphone lit up with a series of direct-message tweets from College Park, Md. After the flick ended, Whetzel promptly gave Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin a call.
“It was really cool, I was sitting there in the movies and I’m getting these messages and knowing something good was going to happen,” Whetzel said. “So I called Coach Durkin and he told me the staff watched my film, liked how I played receiver and defense too, and how I had a real good feel for the game. [Durkin] said he really liked my game and I had an offer from [the Terps].”
Whetzel said Durkin didn’t intimate exactly which position UMD wanted him at, although he believes it could be for offense.
“But basically Coach Durkin said it would be up to me and what I showed on the field,” Whetzel said. “If I play better at receiver, I’ll be a receiver. If I play better at linebacker, I’ll be a linebacker. I personally like offense a little more, but sometimes linebacker does come more naturally to me. I love the ball in my hands, but defense might be my best spot.”
The Clearwater native said he and Durkin also discussed a potential official visit date. Whetzel was already scheduled to trip to Indiana Jan. 22 and Arizona Jan. 29, but hinted he’d be cancelling his Hoosiers’ jaunt in favor of UMD.
“I only have room to take two more officials, because I have an all-star game Jan. 15, and the weekend before that it’s still the dead period,” said Whetzel, who took one official to Iowa State back in October. “So basically I can see two more schools before making my decision. I was set on Indiana and Arizona, but with the Maryland offer I think I’m going to go there on the 24th instead [of IU].”
Why head to College Park over Bloomington, Ind.? Whetzel didn’t want to disparage the Hoosiers, but he said Durkin’s pitch and vision grabbed his attention.
“It was only a brief conversation, but I could tell Coach Durkin is a passionate guy and is looking to build up the Maryland program,” Whetzel said. “I haven’t done too much research on them yet, but I’ve seen enough and know enough to know it’s a great place to continue my career. It’s a Big Ten school, there’s a chance I can play early there, and they have a lot of great coaches coming in. It’s definitely a place I want to check out.”
Arizona, though, is firmly in play too. The Wildcats will conceivably get last dibs Jan. 29.
“I love the coaching staff at Arizona,” Whetzel said. “I talk to them a couple times each week, and they like me at receiver, which is great. I’m excited about seeing them too.”
Whetzel also mentioned that he was keeping USF under consideration since it’s the hometown school. He listed Louisville as his other favorite, but it's unclear how hard the Cardinals are pushing. Whetzel was looking at Iowa State and Purdue too, but hasn’t had contact with either staff recently.
“I officially visited Iowa State, but with the new staff I haven’t really heard from them,” said Whetzel, who runs a 4.64-second 40-yard dash. “And I do like Purdue, but I haven’t talked to them in awhile either. I’m not sure they’re interested anymore.”
The two-way standout is coming off a season where he recorded 58 catches for 1,078 yards, 12 receiving touchdowns and two rushing scores. He had 64 tackles and 8.5 sacks on defense.