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Preseason Scouting Notes: JaTarvious Whitlow, RB, Transfer Portal

Redshirt Junior | 6’0″ 210 lbs | Lafayette, AL

 

A one-cut back with good contact balance, vision, and always fights for whatever yards he can get

 

Overview:

JaTarvious Whitlow, known as “Booby” Whitlow to many, was Auburn’s leading rusher over the past two seasons. After tallying 1,550 yards and 16 TDs over two years, he has decided that it’s time for a fresh start in a new program. He was not only the starting running back in the Tigers’ spread offense, but was also the QB when they resorted to the Wildcat. The former all-state performer in three sports left a starting role in a premier conference for the uncertainty of the transfer portal, and has yet to find a home in the middle of June. 

Strengths:

– Good vision. Sees creases as they open up and hits them for gains
– Keeps his feet churning all the way to the ground
– Runs behind his pads and is not afraid of contact
– Mismatch against linebackers when running routes
– Low center of gravity. Maintains balance when in traffic while absorbing contact
– Has good instincts in pass protection and is willing to block bigger defenders
– Explosive burst out of his cuts

Areas To Improve:

– True breakaway speed. Despite his good burst he does not possess top-tier speed on the back end
– Ball security. Carries the ball loosely and away from his body
– Playmaking ability. Does not take over games and make unexpected plays
– Not a particularly powerful runner despite having good contact balance
– Can make defenders miss, but could be more elusive in the open field
– Average hands at best. Has had issues with drops

Injury Concerns:

– Missed 1 game and was limited in another with a knee injury in 2019

Projection:

Whitlow has the tools to be a solid rotational back at the next level.  His one-cut ability will fit best in offenses that utilize zone running schemes. Due to his questionable hands, his contribution in the passing game will be limited, and his 3rd down contribution will be as well. He is not a great fit to line up in the slot, so he is more than likely limited to formations that keep him in the backfield. Teams that lack depth in the backfield and need a solid backup option will view him as a worthwhile late Day 2 or early Day 3 pick.

What To Watch In 2020:

First and foremost, the concern for Whitlow is to find a home for the 2020 season and obtain an eligibility waiver. Assuming he can find a home where he does not have to sit a year, he has a solid base upon which to build. The major issue for him will be working on his hands. Fixing his pass catching will not only fix a questionable part of his game, but expand potential roles and his 3rd down viability. How he carries the ball and ball security will also be something to keep an eye on should he find a home for 2020.

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