Whitehead: "NC State Is In My Heart"

Whitehead: "NC State Is In My Heart"

Lithonia (GA) M.L. King defensive end Kenderius Whitehead announced his commitment to NC State on January 18th, and right away some fans of teams still believed to be in contention and various recruiting analysts began to speculate that he would eventually decommit.

Lithonia (GA) M.L. King defensive end Kenderius Whitehead announced his commitment to NC State on January 18th, and right away some fans of teams still believed to be in contention and various recruiting analysts began to speculate that he would eventually decommit.

Signing Day was a couple of weeks away (February 1st), and everybody had their own opinion leading up to the day Whitehead could make it official. His comments always stayed the same... he was solidly committed to NC State and would sign with the Wolfpack.

"It was crazy," Whitehead said after signing his letter of intent. "I was going to stay solid. There were a lot of people trying to impact my decision, but I didn't let it bother me. It's cool that it is over with now that I've signed."

A 6-foot-4, 220-pound defensive end, Whitehead ended the year with 103 tackles and 16 sacks, as he led the state of Georgia in sacks and ranked 34th nationally. He had one game with four sacks and another with three.

His stellar play led to dozens of scholarship offers from programs such as NC State, Clemson, Penn State, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee among others. Whitehead understood why there was speculation he could flip to another school, with rumors of a potential change to Clemson or Georgia flying on the morning of signing day.

"I said when I committed that my decision might shock some people, but NC State is in my heart," said Whitehead. "Even though a lot of people aren't on NC State like that, I felt that was the place. I took my official visit last year and ever since then I was thinking about them.

"I had a great visit. I got to spend some time with the coaches and players, and we clicked. It just felt like home... I got a great vibe from it. So a few weeks ago I went back up for an unofficial visit with my family, and we had a great time."

Whitehead pointed out that he knew at that time he would be committing to NC State but wanted to take another trip just to be sure of his decision.

"The reason I didn't make a decision so quickly was because I hadn't visited Clemson yet," said Whitehead. "I took that visit and then compared the pros and cons. I kind of knew going in that it was going to be NC State, but I wanted to take that last visit and be sure."

It also helped Whitehead knowing that his mother fully supported his decision.

"My mom is a very spiritual person so she was telling me to talk about it with my pastor," Whitehead said. "I took some visits early on to a bunch of colleges and didn't have that feeling I was looking for, but when I went to NC State the first time I liked it a lot.

Kenderius Whitehead

"The second time when I went back with my mom I wanted to do that mainly so she could see what she thought about the school. She loved it. It was great because she told me that she could see me being there. The thing is she never said that about any of the other schools we visited... that made me really feel like it was the place for me."

What type of a player is NC State getting in Kenderius Whitehead? Scout.com Recruiting Analyst Chad Simmons believes he has a high ceiling and the potential to be an impact performer.

"Whitehead is a weakside end, more of a rush end, and he is best when the ball goes away from his side," said Simmons. "He is great in pursuit, but still struggles when the ball is ran right at him. As he gets bigger, he should improve in that area.

"If he is free, he can be a terror. He comes off the edge with nice pad level, he dips his shoulder nicely to get around the edge, and he really closes on the quarterback well. You have to like the energy and fire Whitehead plays with also. He really plays with emotion, his teammates on the high school level fed off that, and he will take that to the next level."

"With the numbers and what they had this year, I know the situation there," Whitehead said of NC State's depth chart at defensive end. "I feel like it is a great opportunity for me... there is a chance I can play early.

"I got to get to know the coaches at NC State really well... they were excited to get me. They welcomed me on board."

NC State has had success putting defensive linemen in the NFL over the past 10 years, with Wolfpack defensive end standouts such as Mario Williams, Manny Lawson, and Willie Young currently on NFL rosters.

"I know the guys they've had, especially Mario Williams," he said. "Actually, I wore No. 9 in high school, and I want to wear No. 9 at NC State. I know all about him."

Wolfpack fans could be seeing another No. 9 wreaking havoc on quarterbacks in Carter-Finley Stadium starting in 2012.

2011 Senior Year Highlights (Hudl.com): Kenderius Whitehead 2011 Highlights

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