Tad Whitaker has had a busy week, the future University of Tennessee at Chattanooga kicker from East Ridge practicing both football and soccer in preparation for Tennessee-Georgia all-star contests today and Saturday.
The soccer match is this afternoon, starting at 4:30 at Finley Stadium. The football game kicks off Saturday at 7 p.m. at Boyd-Buchanan.
Whitaker practiced football Sunday, Monday and Wednesday and is scheduled for one today, and he had two-a-day soccer practices Tuesday and Thursday.
"Practicing for both is a little tiring, but it's fun at the same time to play two sports at once. I did it with soccer and baseball in high school," said Whitaker, who'll be a preferred walk-on for the Mocs when they start workouts.
"He's the best kicker I've coached, and that covers 16 years," East Ridge football coach Tracy Malone said. "He's a better kicker, but with some technique work he can be a really good punter, too."
In his two seasons at East Ridge, Malone saw Whitaker miss just two extra points.
"And both came when the holder failed to get the ball down," Malone added. "We average six or seven field goals each year and he missed only one, and we do a lot of pooch-type kickoffs and he was so on the money."
Whitaker was a true student-athlete at East Ridge. He was the Pioneers' kicker and played soccer and baseball all four years. He played basketball his freshman and sophomore seasons and all the while carried a 4.0 grade point average. He scored a 26 on the ACT.
An all-state soccer player, Whitaker is looking forward to the challenges presented by college football.
"I'm not sure what to think. It will be a whole new experience," he said. "I'll try to get into the rhythm of what UTC does and see how that goes. I plan to work my hardest and I'll do whatever they want, whether it's kicking for the scout team in practice or going into a game."
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...