Whitfield looking to lead the Panthers
Published 10:30 am Saturday, August 5, 2023
Fall camp has just begun for most of the local teams. Many teams are looking for players to step up and become leaders this season. Luckily for Lanett, their leader has made himself known early in the process.
Alajawon Whitfield is expected to be Lanett’s starting quarterback. Even if he ends up not playing quarterback, he will still start at wideout and defensive back. Whitfield has already shown himself to be the team’s leader. By just the first day of fall camp, Whitfield impressed.
Whitfield is like another coach at practice. He is constantly telling players to hustle, finishing first in sprints, encouraging his teammates and leading vocally and by example. It does not matter where Whitfield is on the field this season, he will be the key to Lanett’s success.
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As a leader, Whitfield tries to be an example for his teammates by doing the right things.
“Really just leading by example,” Whitfield said. “Whatever I tell them to do, I do it myself to keep them motivated and want to keep watching me and do what I do.”
Whether it is a head coach or a star player, the leader on the team sets the goals for the rest of the players. Whitfield’s goal is to show that the standard is still the same at Lanett.
“Really get into the playoffs and keep winning, get a championship,” Whitfield said.
Being a vocal leader is something that has come naturally for Whitfield. He just had to be given the position to be a leader. Now at quarterback, Whitfield has the right platform to lead the team.
“That’s really how I’ve always been,” Whitfield said. “I just had to have the moment or the spotlight to do it. So now, I feel like I got the spotlight to do it.”
As the new head coach for Lanett, Chip Seagle needed to find the leader of his team quickly this summer.
After getting the head coach position, Seagle challenged Whitfield to step up and be the leader.
“I started giving him more responsibility because that’s the only way you can do it,” Seagle said. “He’s answered the call.”
Seagle put Whitfield on the leadership council, and he took him to speak at the media days in Opelika. Despite all this responsibility, Whitfield never wilted under the pressure.
“I was ready for it,” Whitfield said. “So when he gave it to me, there wasn’t really to it, just to keep doing it.”
“He’s just a good all around kid,” Seagle said. “He really is just a good kid.”
Whitfield was just in seventh grade when Seagle left Lanett. Therefore, the two did not really know each other before Seagle got the head coaching job. While he was an assistant coach at Lanett, Seagle won two championships. Therefore, Seagle knows how important player leadership is.
“Oh, It makes a big difference,” Seagle said. “You can have a decent football team and win some football games on talent without player leadership, but you’re never going to be a great team and maximize what you can do without [it] being player-led,” Seagle said. “The players have got to be involved.”
Seagle learned quickly the type of leader that Whitfield was, and how hard of a worker he was in the weight room.
“He works hard,” Seagle said. “He’s always been a hard worker from what I’ve been told.”
Whitfield’s motivation to be as good as he can be comes from not wanting to let his teammates down.
With a new head coach and some young players, many could be tempering their expectations for Lanett this season. However, that’s not the case within the team.
“I know we’re going to prove them wrong,” Whitfield said. “You know, everyday we’ve been preaching about being one percent [better] and I think we’re really living by that.”
This will be Whitfield’s first season playing quarterback.
The speed and mobility will obviously be there for Whitfield, but he’s also been working on his footwork and mechanics as a passer. He believes this will keep the defense on their toes and make him even more of a threat.