When looking for North Georgia’s best rising juniors, the little town of Bostwick has one of the finest in Len’neth Whitehead. The two-sport star in football and track is getting serious looks from the SEC and beyond. Schools like Tennessee, Georgia, Auburn, Michigan, Georgia Tech, and Stanford are among those already pursuing his skill set to attend there when he graduates.
At 16 years old, Whitehead weighs in at 6’1 and ½ inches and 228 pounds. He sports a best official forty time of 4.67 and plays running back and linebacker for the Athens Academy Spartans. His team played for the State Class A Private School Championship a year ago coming up short to Eagles Landing Christian in the finals. He said, “We will have a target on our chest this year, but our goal is to win the Region and State Championship. (That’s not surprising when you have an athlete of his caliber toting the leather.) I think our biggest challenges will be against Prince Avenue and Commerce this year. We’ve always had a big rivalry with Prince Avenue. They, like Commerce, have always had good programs.” According to Whitehead, he bench presses 345 pounds, has an estimated squat of 515, and power cleans 305. After missing some time with two torn labrums in 2017, he still gained 1200 yards on the ground for Coach Josh Alexander (fourth year at Athens Academy). “My personal goal this year is to gain 1800 yards. I think it’s well within reach.”
Whitehead is the son of Latonice Wade (a Morgan County graduate) and Dimitri Whitehead but says his grandmother, Emma Wade (also a Morgan County graduate), has also been a driving force behind his success. “She’s always had my back and that’s been a plus for me.” He also credits his uncle, Ken Whitehead, for being one of his mentors. “My uncle is on the coaching staff at Athens Academy. He’s one of the biggest reasons I’m playing for them now,” he told us.
As good as he is in football, Whitehead may be even more respected as a track athlete where he throws the shot put. He told us that he will be missing a football game in October while competing with the USA team in Argentina. “It’s going to be hard missing a game, but the coaches were alright with it since it was for the USA team. They understood that.”
Whitehead also told us that it was not an easy decision to attend Athens Academy, but feels the rigor will help prepare him for college. His class load will include honors science, honors European history, English, Spanish, and Advanced Algebra II this year. He told us, “It’s going to be a tough year academically, but English might be my hardest class. I’m leaning toward the business side in college and marketing, but sports science is also something I’ve thought about. I’m not sure about coaching right now. It’s something I might look at, but it’s iffy right now. I’m just not sure at this point.” The cousin to Morgan County’s own superstar, Jordan Huff, also enjoys drawing and acting and could possibly pursue those in the future as well.
As a running back, Whitehead says he patterns himself after Le’Veon Bell of the NFL. “I respect his style of running. He’s patient and lets the line do their job before finding his hole.” Bell, at 6-1, 220 pounds, is similar to the size of Whitehead as only a rising junior.
He was asked about his favorite part of the game of football and where his passion developed. He responded, “I love the feeling of scoring a touchdown. Not to be selfish or anything, I know I have to have blockers and other things, but it’s a high. I also love throwing the shot put.”
As the interview ended, Whitehead had to rush off to practice at 4:00 on a Sunday afternoon in 90 degree heat. He laughed, “It’s going to be hot and I’m thinking we will have a lot of conditioning today. I’m not really looking forward to that too much.”
When you come away after meeting this young man for the first time, you get several impressions. He’s smart, respectful, full of energy, works hard and is humble. That, along with his talent, should take him a long way in the games of football and track, but also in the game of life. Good luck Len’neth. We’ll be watching closely over the next two years as you make Morgan County proud.