Blue Hen notebook: Whitehead a quick study for Hens

Kedrick Whitehead

CAMDEN — Kedrick Whitehead still plans to walk at Middletown High’s graduation.

As for going to prom, that’s up in the air.

But, in every other way, Whitehead is already a University of Delaware student — and football player.

After graduating early from Middletown, the freshman linebacker was out there with a group of other Blue Hen players at UD’s Downstate Day at Caesar Rodney on Saturday afternoon.

“Really, it’s just been a goal of mine, before I even entered high school, to come to college early,” said Whitehead. “Just being ambitious about it and attacking everything I do, I just wanted to put myself in the best position to be successful — academically and athletically.

“I get a lot of mixed emotions about it. Some people are like, ‘Oh wow, that’s great. You’re really living life.’ Some people are like, ‘Oh wow, you’re not living life. You should be in high school living your life — literally.’

“But I like how it is. I like what I do now so it’s cool.”

As far as Delaware coach Danny Rocco is concerned, Whitehead is already proving he belongs with the Hens.

After just a few weeks of spring practice, Rocco said the 5-foot-11, 190-pounder is already pushing for playing time at one of the outside linebacker spots.

Rocco went as far as calling Whitehead’s performance so far “the story of the camp.”

“He’s doing a great job,” said Rocco. “Kedrick is doing extremely well. He’s really manning a second-team position behind Buck (Jones).

“He’s very natural, very coachable. I really feel like he’s going to have a very bright future for us.”

The 18-year-old Whitehead admits moving right from high school to life as a college freshman is a big adjustment.

In high school, his day was filled with classwork with football then being his sole focus afterward. But, in college, he can go back and forth between football and school several times in the course of a day.

“I feel like I’ve grown into a more mature man just in these last few weeks — just simply being with older people,” said Whitehead. “But I’ve never been immature. All my life, I’ve hung around older guys. I wasn’t really worried about not making friends, not fitting in because that’s just not my personality.”

On the field, playing exclusively at linebacker is a new experience for Whitehead.

He was a first-team All-Stater at the position as a senior at Middletown but he also played safety and was a standout running back. He ran for 1,314 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior.

“I do miss touching the ball a little bit,” said Whitehead. “Being a defensive player has always been my mindset — just having a nose for the ball, looking for contact. So it’s not a huge change.

“But it is actually kind of easier not having to worry about going on both sides of the ball. Being at Middletown, playing every snap, every down, always tired, never coming off the field … now I just have to focus on one thing and one thing only.”

Henderson working, waiting

Nolan Henderson

Nolan Henderson was a fan of Darius Wade when he was a youngster.

Henderson used to go watch Wade play for Middletown when he was the Cavaliers’ All-State quarterback.

“I kind of looked up to him in a way,” said Henderson, the former Smyrna All-Stater.

So Henderson was pretty excited that Wade transferred to Delaware from Boston College in the off-season, even if it moved him down a spot on the Hens’ QB depth chart.

“When I heard he was transferring, I was actually rooting for him to come here,” said Henderson. “He’s a Delaware guy and I know how special it would be to come back and play for Delaware. I’m just looking forward to learning from him.”

Wade and last year’s starter, J.P. Caruso, are both redshirt seniors and figure to be at the top of the Hens’ depth chart this fall. Henderson is in the next level of QBs with junior Pat Kehoe.

“There’s some things that Nolan does very well, does very naturally,” said Rocco. “As far as his catching and throwing, he’s really good. He makes good quick decisions. He gets the ball out there with accuracy and veleocity. I’m really encouraged.”

Henderson knows he still has some learning — and growing — to do. He’s listed at 6-foot, 170 pounds.

“That’s all I hear,” Henderson said with a smile. “I’ve always been undersized so it doesn’t really change much.

“Last year was a big adjustment for me. But this year I feel like I can really start to compete and start to take advantage of my opportunities.”

Extra points

About 400 youngsters participated in Saturday’s event, which included UD football, basketball, soccer and field hockey players running through drills with the kids. … Delaware’s spring football game is slated for next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. … Former Sussex Tech High standout Kani Kane, who had big first season at running back with the Hens last fall, has switched his number. He and linebacker Ray Jones will both wear No. 7.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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