Carson Whitehead laid a few hundred hard hits on ball carriers during his four record-breaking seasons as a linebacker for the Harlan County Black Bears, but Whitehead was the one feeling a little blindsided when he received a phone call from University of Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown on Tuesday asking him to join the UK football team next fall as a “preferred walk on.”
“I was shocked or stunned, to say the least,” said Whitehead. “I didn’t know what to say at first, but I’ve always been a believer that hard work pays off.”
Whitehead, a four-year starter, led the Bears in tackles for the fourth straight year in 2013 with 139. He also led the HCHS ground attack with 1,277 yards on 167 carries, with 15 touchdowns and six two-point conversions. Whitehead (6-2, 200) played on four straight District 8 championship teams at HCHS and was a member of Region 4 championship teams in 2010 and 2012.
Whitehead said Brown talked to him about trying both linebacker and fullback at UK.
Several smaller colleges have already offered Whitehead a scholarship, including the NAIA national runner-up, the University of the Cumberlands, along with Union and Pikeville. He plans to visit Carson Newman on Feb. 1. Eastern Kentucky University has also talked to Whitehead about being a preferred walk on.
“I’m not sure as of yet,” Whitehead said.