Pitt FB Recruiting
‘I’m Glad to be Back’: A Sit-Down With 2024 4-Star DL Commit Jahsear Whittington
PITTSBURGH — It’s been almost a year since Jahsear Whittington visited Pittsburgh for the first time, processed those feelings and decided he was ready to commit to Pitt.
Whittington — a 6-foot-2, 255-pound four-star defensive end from Imhotep Charter in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — is the top-ranked defensive commitment in the class of 2024, and he’s made it back for another visit to Pittsburgh this weekend.
As perhaps the leader of a very large class, which has been built very, very early, he’s not exactly the under-the-radar commit that Pitt thrives on. He’s legitimately a top-ranked recruit in the class, and Pitt’s defense is better off because of it.
He’s built a strong bond with defensive line coach Charlie Partridge, along with a star in Calijah Kancey and new stars in Isaiah Neal, Elliot Donald — and Rodney Hammond Jr — so it’s no surprise he’s already in the loop.
So, let’s dive into Whittington’s discussion.
How’s it feel being back home now?
“It feels great. I’m glad to be back; I’m glad to have a look at what the team is gonna look like this year and be back on campus with the coaches and all the love from the players I know. It’s actually good to get a better experience around the campus, seeing the different things, see different buildings, things like that.”
You came in last night, and you came in kind of an interesting way, how did you get here last night?
“I caught the Amtrak train.”
And who picked you up when you got here?
“Javon McIntyre, No. 20, the safety.”
What’s it like having a guy like him who’s already around as a big brother of a sort who can show you around and help you transition to the next level?
“I would say it’s definitely helpful having him. He can teach me a lot of things about Pitt, show me around different places, get me a different experience on me just being on a regular visit without him, so he’s definitely a big factor. And he definitely talked to me about committing and stuff like that, so now that it’s finally happened, he’s always been a big source whenever it came to Pitt football.”
He’s a big-time guy now. He’s a starter in the secondary. Who is the Javon you know, and how do you think he’s grown up in the past few years out here?
“I always knew he was a great player before I even got to Imhotep (Charter High School), before I got a chance to play with him. I always saw he was a special type of guy that can make plays. They say in college you gotta learn the playbook, get adapted to the atmosphere and the quickness of the game, so it took him a year and a half, and last year he got out there and made plays, so it’s not too unexpected that I saw that from him.”
With you rushing the quarterback, he must’ve had plenty of chances to get those interceptions in the secondary. How does that duo work together on the field?
“It’s basically like the O-line helps the quarterback and the quarterback helps the O-line. That’s the 1-2 punch I can give you. I get pressure, he gets picks. If he stays in coverage, I get sacks. That’s just how it goes.”
So, tonight you’re hanging out with him and you’re gonna see some of the city. What are you hoping to see tonight, and what have you learned since you’ve got here again?
“From being in meetings with the team, I’ve definitely learned the little things about playing football at a higher level. So, there’s something I actually want to work on now and apply to my game, so I don’t need it to be taught to me when I get here in a year.”
“I’m hoping just to see some cool buildings, find a bite to eat. Something like that. So, just see what the Pittsburgh area and the Pittsburgh city presents.”
Have you eaten at Primanti’s yet?
That’s, like, the biggest thing — when they come out here for the first time, they’ve gotta come eat at Primanti’s. Fries on sandwiches, a little coleslaw, is that your kinda thing?
“I mean, hey, I’ll try it.”
So, today you were sitting in on meetings. Obviously (coach Partridge) is a big factor for you, instant connection kind of there, what kind of guy is he like? I know he’s a great coach, what’s he like as a person?
“As a person, he keeps it straight up. When I talk to him, he just tells me what’s going on up here and he’s always checking in with my weight and things like that and makes sure I’m on a good track for when I get here to add some muscle weight and still be able to move as quick as I am. He’s a great guy. Coaches are always different on the field and off, but having been around him while he’s coaching when I came to the camps, I’m not really expecting a whole different change up overall. I know what kind of guy he is, and that’s why I put my trust in him.”
You came out here for a visit right before you committed, and you met him obviously, just how important was he to your commitment so soon after that visit?
“He had a sit down with me and my father. We looked at some tape, and I could just tell with the kind of player I am, how I move, how I play my game, it fits what he does with his scheme and his defensive linemen, so once I saw that and I saw how he got Calijah to make big plays and things like that, on top of Calijah being a great player, I could just see myself as another Calijah but instead, it’s Jahsear Whittington.”
You’re a very smart guy, coach Partridge is a very smart guy, do you think having a guy who could challenge you mentally and physically was important for you to kind of develop at the next level?
“If I’m not mentally challenged, physically challenged, then I’ll never learn how to overcome it whenever I get challenged at one point. Just the little things like that let me know that everything is what I want it to be and will get me to where I want to go.”
I hear his meetings are very fast-paced, very intensive, having been in on a few now, what do you think of his coaching style and how do you think you can adapt to that in the future?
“It’s gonna take a little while to adapt to it, you know, definitely takes a while to adapt to the whole playbook on top of not just the stuff he’s giving you, so my main focus on being here is trying to learn every day as much as I can from him, the playbook, players that are already there, anybody that’s gonna develop me. His playing style matches me. So, just being able to use my athleticism, use my quickness and being free to go make plays, then I feel like that’s definitely the defensive front that I like.”
You mentioned Calijah Kancey. On Wednesday, he showed out at Pro Day. He said that he’s Calijah Kancey, not Aaron Donald. I’m sure you’ll have the same comparisons to both of them. Who is Jahsear Whittington on the field?
“He’s a dawg. That’s as much as I can say. When you look at Jahsear Whittington, look at his tape, you go to a game, you’re gonna see 25 on the field making plays no matter what.”
What’s your biggest strength?
“My biggest strength is just showing no doubt. I never doubt myself, my team or anything. Whatever I do, I do it with passion, so I can say that’s my biggest thing. I never think the game is over, and I never, ever feel any lineman in front of me can block me.”
So, watching Calijah, watching Aaron Donald, having that Pitt legacy of defensive tackles, is that a challenge for you? Or how do you take that challenge of being the next Aaron Donald, the next Calijah Kancey, the Jahsear Whittington?
“I don’t feel no pressure. I just feel like I gotta go in and do what they did, plus more, and create a name for myself and just be a part of the legacy.”
So, did you watch any of Calijah’s Pro Day? Did you see anything, talk to him at all recently?
“After the combine, I hit him up, I texted him, I didn’t talk to him recently at the Pro Day. He said he’s still here, so I might link up with him. I don’t talk to him as much but anything on Instagram or Twitter, I’ll retweet it or repost it, we go back and forth like that.”
Why do you think he’s such a good player? You don’t know him too, too well, but what do you think makes him such a disruptive, unstoppable pass rusher from that d-tackle spot?
“I feel like he put his trust in coach Charlie Partridge and got to work.”
You were the first commit here in ’24 about a year ago now. There’s 10 guys now all before June, all before the official visits, how has it been watching the class grow bigger and bigger almost every day, it seems like, over the last month?
“It’s a good moment. It’s a good moment for the program, for the class. When I committed, I wasn’t really worried about being the first commit, but after a while I started realizing it was a big thing, so I’m happy to have those guys commit, they’re great players. I watched a lot of them, if not played against some of them, so I’m just excited for our class. I’m praying everybody stay, we all sign together and we come in the class and get to work.”
How often do you guys talk as a group?
“I talked to a couple of new commits, but we don’t really talk that often, which I’m going to change. I’m going to start making group chats with those guys, so we can stay in touch a little bit.”
Who are some guys that stand out that you’ve watched and who you’ve seen so far?
“I’d say DayDay (Farmer), the receiver. He’s an explosive guy. He has gone viral for embarrassing people in 7-on-7, so I know that guy’s a good, athletic receiver that’s gonna score points. I’d say Ty (Yuhas) from Central Catholic, I feel like he’s gonna be another force on that defensive line alongside me. I’m definitely looking forward to Juelz Goff, the running back, I’m definitely looking forward to him stepping up. The past running backs have been great at Pitt, so I’m definitely looking forward to him stepping in and making big plays for us.”
You’ve been a guy who has kind of pushed more and more guys here, you’ve been active on social media, you’re a big social media guy, how important is it for you to build those bonds with guys and try to bring them in with you?
“I feel like it’s as simple as I build a bond with those guys and then they tend to ask me why I committed and stuff, so when I give them the same type of answer I got, hopefully, they visit and they commit also and they give the same reason why I committed.”
You’re a pretty sociable guy, pretty outgoing guy, where does that come from?
“I don’t know, it’s just who I am. But when it comes to Pitt, the fans, they show so much love, so that just gives me more confidence. Post a little something knowing the fans are gonna support me in whatever I do.”
You mention the fans, you go on some unofficial visits occasionally, nothing too serious, just checking stuff out, what is your message for fans who might be worried it’s something serious? What is your message for fans who might be worried about it?
“I’d just say I’m definitely Pitt in. A lot of fans tend to see me go on other visits and their minds start to go in circles, but I definitely left a message on Twitter one time saying, ‘Pitt is my home, Pitt is where I wanna be.’ The other stuff, I’m just going through the process, checking out campuses, but at heart, it’s all blue and yellow.”
Who are some guys you’ve met so far, some newer guys or d-tackles, who are some guys you’ve gotten to know so far on the team?
“I’ve gotten to know Ghost, Isaiah Neal. I got to chop it up with him a little bit today. Elliot Donald, Rodney Hammond. All of those guys, like so far, I’m definitely building connections.”
Ghost is a guy who came in back in January. He’s a new guy here, already making an impact. Is that kind of what your plan is, do you plan to enroll early?
“I’m not planning on early enrolling. I’m gonna finish out my whole senior year and get here in the summer, but during that I’m preparing, I’m gonna work how I would work here.”
In terms of tomorrow, you’re here to watch a scrimmage, you’re here to watch some guys going at it in live football, what are you watching tomorrow? Who are you going to be watching?
“I’m watching the intensity, the speed. I’m watching technique from those D-line guys. I’m watching coaching, just things like that. I’m watching the defense. I’m watching everything.”
You have about a year now until you can come in here and play, what’s that timeline like? What do you plan to do going forward?
“Going forward I’ve got one more year of high school football left, so I’m looking forward to dominating that last year, hopefully getting a state championship. Throughout that offseason, throughout that spring, that winter, I’m gonna work my behind off and make sure I come in here ready to go. Still have to learn, but I’m gonna make sure I’m willing to learn. I’m gonna become ready to learn, and I’m ready for everything that comes with college football. And I’m definitely making sure I’m listening and taking everything that coach Charlie Partridge teaches me and applying it.”
What are some individual goals you have for yourself as you grow as a player?
“This year I definitely want to get 15 plus sacks. Me, personally, I really want to win a state championship. So, 20 plus TFLs, more than 60 plus tackles, and just having a dominant season.”
What is your overall message for Pitt fans and fans who are ready to see you come in and play?
“To all my Pitt fans, just know in a year or two, when I’m finally on campus, y’all got a dawg that’s gonna make plays and send us to the ACC championship and win it.”