Whitaker honored with Athlete of the Month

Terrel Emerson

Sophomore wide receiver De’Jai Whitaker is unlike a traditional big man on campus. The 6-foot 5-inches slender-wide-out is reserved, humble and according to his teammates and coaches, quiet.

Passing Game Coordinator Jeff Fisher said, “By him being a quiet guy you see that he is well-mannered. But you can tell he has that fight in him every time he steps on the field.”

Despite his shy demeanor, Whitaker is the exact opposite on the gridiron. He was awarded with the Male Athlete of the Month for October from the CCCAA as it was announced last week.

“I felt really good after being named Male Athlete of the Month for October,” a usually silent Whitaker said.

Quarterback Jimmy Walker, who has been one of the main catalyst in Whitaker’s prosperity, admitted that at times he is lost for words.

“I just can’t say enough about that guy man, he just makes plays,” Walker said.

In October, he racked up 19 receptions for 479 yards and five touchdowns.

On the other hand, it wasn’t just in October that Whitaker saw success.

He reeled in 60 catches for 1,331 yards (five-100 plus yard games and two-200 plus yard games) and 15 touchdowns throughout the season including the lone playoff game against the Long Beach City Vikings.

His 60 catches doubled his previous high of 24, which he set in the 2014 campaign.

Also, the 1,331-yard mark set a new school record that was previously held by now Purdue wide receiver Dominique Young.

“When I came in ‘Domo’ [Young] was a hard worker so that made me want to work even harder,” Whitaker said.

He didn’t even need an entire season to get to the 1,000-mark, it took only nine games. In the season finale against College of the Canyons, Whitaker responded with a huge nine reception, 225-yard game scoring four touchdowns.

Whitaker has gone on record to admit that he was happy about breaking this particular record because it was the first record he has ever broken.

Now in addition to that record-breaking performance, this honor has been successfully added to his resume he still looks to continue to improve and better himself.

Whitaker has broken down his future into two parts: short and long term goals.

“My short term goal is to graduate from Cerritos with my AA [Associate’s degree] and get a football and track scholarship,” Whitaker said. “Long term goal is to make to the NFL Draft.”

Head coach Frank Mazzotta has praised his prized receiver, but at times he has had to show him his version of tough love.

Following the crucial double-overtime loss at Moorpark on Halloween, Mazzotta said, “If you are going to score put the ball away, why do you have to do the extra little deal?”

These comments came after the team loss by six points and Mazzotta recalled back to the second quarter where Whitaker had what looked like a touchdown and fumbled short of the goal line.

In hindsight, Fisher said, “You can’t really get mad at a kid for that. Can’t be too frustrated when it becomes an effort play on him working to keep gaining yards and scoring.”

Whitaker seemed to be able to handle the pressure of being the Falcons number one receiver, this fall he will leave the next and take his journey from the Junior College ranks to the four-year college level.