MOBILE, Ala. — Darius Whitfield had no idea who was going to replace Steve Spurrier, but that didn’t keep him from committing to South Carolina.
On Oct. 13, 2015, Spurrier retired as head coach of the Gamecocks. Whitfield jumped on board and pledged himself to the Gamecocks just one day later.
“Some people (thought) he must know something, he knows which coach is coming in, he must be a psychic or something,” Whitfield said. “I just took it as … I just did what my heart told me to do.”
The 3-star defensive lineman from Mobile, Ala., rated the No. 25 strongside end in the Class of 2016, didn’t learn about Spurrier’s retirement until he was scrolling through his Twitter timeline several hours after the announcement was made.
“When I saw it, I was just like, dang,” Whitfield said. “It really didn’t hit me like … ‘Oh, my God, I’ve got to rethink everything.’”
He insists he was “locked in” on the decision. His mother, Tammie Whitfield, wasn’t so sure.
“At first, I was a little skeptical,” she said, “But when I met with the coaches on the official visit, my mind is free now. I feel he’ll do pretty good up there.”
It didn’t take Darius Whitfield that long to feel good about coach Will Muschamp and his new staff. If anything, the hire reassured him that he made the right decision.
“When (Muschamp) was at Florida, I always liked him at Florida. He (had) been recruiting me since the Florida days, so I always knew he has a good defense, he has good defensive linemen,” Whitfield said. “He has that background on sending people to the NFL.”
That’s where he hopes to head when his time in Columbia is up.
Whitfield already has a plan for life beyond football: Former players-turned-broadcasters such as Rodney Harrison and Ray Lewis are counted among his favorites.
“I feel like I would be good,” Whitfield said, “And I like to talk, too.”
SEC Country asked Whitfield for a personal scouting report.
“I would say that I’m a big guy that people don’t look at me as I’m athletic. I can run. I have to keep my pad-level down more, but I feel like I can make plays when I’m not supposed to make plays, I just have to stay disciplined to my assignment,” Whitfield said. “I just feel like I’m aggressive and I have a high motor.”
And off the field?
“I like making everybody around me smile,” he said. “I’m a big, goofy, playful guy, but I know when to stop.”
A two-time state champion at St. Paul’s Episcopal, Whitfield arrived at South Carolina earlier this summer with a quality football pedigree. His older brother, Joshua Casher, is a redshirt sophomore center at Alabama.
“What I learned from him the most, hard work is everything,” Whitfield said, “So you have to work hard to get what you want. Always put in extra work.”
Added Tammie Whitfield: “No. 1 is his classwork, then get on the field and do what he has to do, and just — don’t have too much fun.”