INDIANAPOLIS Ever since the morning of Dec. 14, former Michigan football players David Terrell and James Whitley have gone in opposite directions.
Early that morning, the police stopped the duo outside of a Hill Street apartment after Terrell”s ex-girlfriend called the police claiming he was breaking into her apartment. Terrell was not charged with any crime. But Whitley was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon after the police found a gun inside his jacket.
Whitley, a co-captain, was dismissed from the football team by coach Lloyd Carr later that day. He then went to trial on a felony charge, facing up to five years in prison.
Meanwhile, Terrell went on to catch four balls for 136 yards and a touchdown in the Citrus Bowl and was defended by his former coach.
“I want to make it clear: He”s a good person, he”s a great kid and he”s done a great job for Michigan,” Carr said after the Citrus Bowl victory.
Both players were at the NFL combine in Indianapolis last weekend, but they faced entirely different situations.
While Terrell is prepping for his workout on March 16 in order to hold onto his projected top-five spot, Whitley was at the event to improve his draft position, as his status is not as promising.
“You can definitely improve your status. Come up, show up, physically fit, zero problems, zero health issues, do well in personal workouts,” said Whitley of how to have an impressive combine.
Obviously, he didn”t seem bothered by the recent felony charge and an arrest in April of 1999 on suspicion of delivery of marijuana Whitley only received a ticket for driving with a suspended license, but was suspended in the offseason by coach Lloyd Carr.
Whitley also seemed unconcerned about questions about his image during personal interviews at the combine.
“That is where the team gets an overall impression of what type of guy you are your character” said Whitley, explaining the importance of the interviews players had with NFL teams.
If Whitley can make teams forget about his problems with the law, he can certainly overcome an unimpressive 40-yard dash time.
Whitley”s agents were unavailable for information on his times at the combine. But before his workout Whitley said he was a “sub 4.5 guy.”
“I”m not fast at all,” Whitley joked.
John Clayton of ESPN, although unfamiliar with the situation, seemed more concerned about Whitley”s legal problems.
“It”s a possibility that, if he is found guilty with any kind of a gun charge, he will start off with a suspension,” Clayton said.
He also asserted that NFL teams usually only overlook problems with the law in the case of great players. An exception for Whitley seems unexpected, as he was already not one of the top prospects in the draft. Rivals.com rates Whitley as the 27th-best cornerback available.
With all these obstacles, Whitley still believes he can become a good corner in the NFL.
“I”m an aggressive corner,” Whitley said. “I learn the game fairly quick. I just have will power.”
Although Whitley might not become an NFL star, he will overcome his biggest challenge if he just makes it into the league being on the football field rather than behind bars.