Former LaFayette star JaTarvious “Boobee” Whitlow aims for USFL/XFL comeback

Published 12:35 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2023

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JaTarvious “Boobee” Whitlow left LaFayette High School in 2017 to continue playing football at Auburn University. After the 2019 season, Whitlow would transfer from Auburn to Western Illinois and never play in another game. 

Very few athletes in Alabama have ever put up the numbers that Whitlow put up in high school. As a senior, Whitlow had over 4000 total yards and 59 touchdowns. Whitlow led LaFayette to an undefeated regular season, but they would fall to Fyffe in the third round of the playoffs. 

Once at Auburn, Whitlow would continue to excel. Whitlow did not play in his first season at Auburn, but he would be the leading rusher for Auburn in 2018 and 2019. Whitlow eclipsed 700 yards in each of his last two seasons at Auburn. 

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At the time, Whitlow was being considered as an NFL draft prospect. Some considered him to be near the top five at his position for the 2021 draft. This would have likely been good enough to get him drafted on day two or three of the NFL Draft. 

Whitlow’s transfer stunned many people in the football world. His transfer destination was even more shocking than the initial transfer decision. After two seasons as the leading rusher for Auburn, Whitlow decided to transfer to Western Illinois. 

“I really just felt like I was a little too close to home,” Whitlow said. “It was people able to get to me too easily. I just felt like I needed to separate myself.” 

For Whitlow, his family and friends being so close to him became a distraction. Going back and forth between his home and Auburn University so often made it difficult for Whitlow to focus on being a football player. 

Whitlow entering the transfer portal could not have come at a worse time in college football. He transfered in 2020 right before colleges would be sent into a whirlwind due to the pandemic. Western Illinois would move their season to the spring. 

Whitlow eventually get on campus at Western Illinois, but he had to sit out the season due to eligibility issues. After sitting out, Whitlow would decide to leave and never suit up as a Leatherneck. 

“Once I had sat out, I ended up getting a job,” Whitlow said. “When I sat out, I couldn’t practice, I couldn’t do nothing.” 

Whitlow wound up having a child and coming back home. He then sat out for two years before going back on a college campus. 

“That’s when Coach Dialleo Burks ended up calling me and getting me out there to Warner,” Whitlow said. 

Warner University listed Whitlow on its roster for the 2022 season. Whitlow would never play for Warner and would end up leaving after just a few months. 

“Just really wasn’t feeling school anymore for real,” Whitlow said. “I had left Auburn then went to Western Illinois and couldn’t play. Then, went to Warner and still again couldn’t play. That kinda just really took a toll on me.” 

After leaving Warner, Whitlow would close the door on making a return to college football. However, he still has not given up on his goal to play football at some level. 

Whitlow said not be able to do a pro day. After this setback, Whitlow started working with a trainer in Birmingham and then tried out for a team in the Canadian Football League.

“While I was there I had met a guy that gave me an opportunity for a showcase game that the USFL was hosting,” Whitlow said. “I got a showcase game on July 13-15. Then, I’m going to Washington to try out for the XFL.”

Whitlow has been actively training for his potential comeback to football. His priority is to focus on staying in shape and getting back to being himself. 

“I’m really just focusing on getting back into Boobee.” Whitlow said. “When the time comes, I’ll be ready.” 

One of the biggest changes for Whitlow has been in his mindset. When he first got to Auburn, he said that he was “young and dumb” and just trying to enjoy his college experience.  

While at Auburn, Whitlow was juggling with being a football player, being young, and becoming a father. 

Whitlow has had to do a lot of growing up since his time at Auburn. He now has two kids and more motivation to make it as a football player. 

“I’ve only known football,” Whitlow said. “If I ever decide to not do football again, I really don’t know what I could do in life. I really don’t know no other thing that I could do.” 

After all of his experiences, Whitlow wants to help guide the younger generation of athletes in Chambers County. 

“Can’t nobody teach you how to be consistent, it’s about if you love it,” Whitlow said. “The advice I would give them is never give up on yourself, never doubt yourself, and don’t never let anyone let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.”