The number six plays an internal role for Jordan Whittington.
It's the number of points wide receivers add to the scoreboard when they find the end zone. That's the same number of points he's collected as a member of Texas' roster.
It's also the number of games Whittington has played since arriving in Austin back in 2019.
By no fault of his own, injuries have hampered the Cuero receiver from making his mark for the Longhorns. The 6-foot-1 target played in five games last season after knee and hip concerns forced him to miss five starts.
Fully healthy and with his mind now in the right place, Whittington is ready to show Texas what they've missed over the years.
“You know, my body’s been feeling amazing,” Whittington said Tuesday. “The offense is great. And I think this spring has been a real eye-opener for me just as much as I've developed as a receiver and just seeing this offense and what it can do, it's going to be amazing.”
It didn't take long for new head coach Steve Sarkisian to notice Whittington's potential. By the end of the first week, he raved on how well the former No. 2 athlete in the 2019 recruiting cycle has adjusted to his system.
“I really like Jordan. From the day I’ve got here, he’s done everything I’ve asked,” Sarkisian said earlier this month. “He’s part of our leadership committee. And I think he’s really learned our system well, is probably the furthest along of understanding, can play multiple positions at the wide receiver position right now. He’s been a playmaker so far throughout the beginning of spring ball, and he’s also been a real asset on special teams.”
What's not to like about a can't-miss talent? Oh right, the missed time.
Whittington has only appeared in six of the team's 23 outings since 2019. During that span, fans have caught a glimpse of what he can do when at full speed. In the four-overtime loss to Oklahoma, he recorded a team-high 10 receptions for 65 yards.
After that, then-coach Tom Herman announced that he suffered a "freak" hip injury.
"I went through a dark time," Whittington said. "I just kept my trust in God, and I told myself, if I’m going to quit, God’s going to have to literally walk in my room and tell me if this isn’t what is for me. So, I’m just still going, and I feel like I’m on the bright side. I'm glad I didn't stop going.”
Health is the main factor for Whittington now. Lining up information isn't the problem. He's taken snaps at running back, in the slot, and on the edge during his time both at Texas and in Cuero, where he recorded 5,400 all-purpose yards and 60 touchdowns on his way to stardom.
Perhaps he'll start slow. Sark has plenty of wide receivers that have impressed this spring and Whittington agrees.
None have had the same impact as Whittington. The reasoning? His relationship with the new staff and attentiveness to detail.
“I take notes on everything; I pay attention,” he said. “When I’m not going, I’m watching the play ahead of me when I’m out. And I’m just watching everything, learning it by the concept and not my individual thing."
The fine details have made him a can't-miss name towards the staff. Even teammates are excited to see him finally in action be the driving force he was always intended to be.
“Jordan always had that skill set," Running back Bijan Robinson said. "Seeing him bounce back from all the injuries, the bad things that happened in his life, it’s a blessing to see him come back and really take advantage of the time he’s had here in the spring."
Six games aren't enough to know if Whittington will be a star. Six practices are at least a starting point for the new Texas regime to see if he has what it takes.
Whittington has the big goals like anyone else. He wants Texas can win the Big 12 championship for the first time since 2009. Heck, with an Alabama-led coach, maybe that title-town magic can help the Longhorns in it all.
The biggest goal is to remain healthy for a season — and maybe another six in the form of points along the way.
“I’ve just been put in unfortunate situations. I’ve never played (thinking), ‘Man, I might get hurt this down.’ Ultimately that’s how you get hurt," Whittington said. "So I let it loose every time, and through the grace of God, I’ll stay healthy. And I feel way better.”
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