CAREER: Talented free safety who was the leader in the Bulldogs secondary … Concluded his career with one of the most memorable plays in MSU history, tallying a game-winning forced fumble in the Egg Bowl … Underwent ACL surgery in early December after all All-SEC second-team season as voted by the league coaches . . . Earned Freshman All-SEC honors in 2010 from the coaches . . . Played in 46 games with 42 starts … Racked up 229 career tackles, eight tackles for loss, five forced fumbles and 19 pass breakups … Concluded his career as the active FBS leader in interceptions with 15, which is third in MSU history … Came to Mississippi State after a standout high school career in the Jackson Metro Area.
2013 SENIOR SEASON: The leader of the MSU secondary who played in 11 games with 11 starts at free safety … Earned second-team All-SEC honors by the league’s coaches … Led the squad with five interceptions and ranked fourth on the team in tackles with 55 … Also forced two fumbles on the year … Ranked second in the SEC in both interceptions and interception returns … Was tied for 17th nationally in interceptions … Turned in one of the most memorable plays in MSU history against Ole Miss (11/28), knocking the ball away from Bo Wallace as he was going into the end zone for the contest-tying scoring in overtime … The forced fumble gave the Bulldogs the Egg Bowl win … Also intercepted a pass in the Ole Miss game … Missed the Liberty Bowl due to ACL surgery in early December … Booked a season-high 10 tackles at Arkansas (11/23) … Added first forced fumble and fumble recovery of the season against the Razorbacks with a game-changing fourth-quarter strip and takeaway, jarring the ball from Alex Collins at the MSU nine-yard line with the score tied and less than six minutes remaining … Added fourth interception of the campaign in the third quarter, picking off a Johnny Manziel pass … Led team with eight tackles against LSU (10/5), recording seven in the first three quarters of the game … Picked off third pass of 2013 in the second quarter against the Tigers … Against Auburn (9/14), tied a career high with two interceptions – both off Nick Marshall – and added six tackles.
2012 JUNIOR SEASON: Started all 13 games at safety, finishing the regular season as the team’s third leading tackler with 88 on the season . . . Picked off three passes and forced one fumble on the year . . . Also credited with 3.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage . . . Recorded at least seven tackles in five different games in 2012 . . . Posted a career-high 13 against LSU a week after recording 12 against Texas A&M . . . Also recorded seven stops against Auburn and South Alabama before racking up eight against Tennessee and Middle Tennessee ... Hauled in a career-high two interceptions in the Bulldog’s season finale against Northwestern in the Gator Bowl.
2011 SOPHOMORE SEASON: Was an All-SEC candidate before rupturing his Achilles’ tendon in the first quarter of the game against No. 3 Alabama . . . Started seven of the nine games he appeared in before the injury . . . Recorded 34 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, four interceptions, one pass breakup and one forced fumble . . . Made four tackles and picked off a pass in the season-opening win at Memphis . . . Credited with six tackles and another pick in the win at home over Louisiana Tech . . . Intercepted a pass at Georgia . . . Notched seven tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and an interception vs. No. 16 South Carolina . . . Tallied seven tackles in the SEC road win at Kentucky.
2010 REDSHIRT FRESHMAN SEASON: Played in all 13 games, earning 11 starting nods . . . Finished the season tied for the team lead with three interceptions . . . Totalled 52 tackles with 34 solo and 1.5 tackles for loss . . . Also filed up the stat sheet with 1.5 sacks, three pass breakups, two quarterback hurries, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble . . . Forced and recovered a fumble at the goalline to preserve the Georgia win . . . Posted a career-high seven tackles in the win at Florida . . . Recorded five stops in the Gator Bowl victory against Michigan.
2009 TRUE FRESHMAN SEASON: Sat out his true freshman season as a redshirt.
HIGH SCHOOL: Ranked as the No. 80 safety prospect in the country by national recruiting website Scout.com, in part because he missed most of his senior season with an injury . . . Suffered both a torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligament in his knee two games into his final high school campaign . . . Considered the No. 74 “athlete” in the country by national recruiting website Rivals.com . . . That site rated him the No. 22 prospect in the state of Mississippi . . . Rated with the top 25 high school prospects in the state of Mississippi by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger following his senior season . . . Credited with running a 4.6-second, 40-yard dash by recruiting website Rivals.com . . . Standout two-way player in the Jackson high school prep ranks, he started at quarterback and defensive back during his high school career for head coach Willie Collins at Provine High School in Jackson . . . Had accounted for four touchdowns offensively and returned a fumble 55 yards for a score defensively before his senior injury . . . Rushed and passed for 1,701 yards during his junior season while on offense . . . Made 40 tackles with five interceptions as a junior on defense . . . Began his high school career at Murrah High School in Jackson, Miss. . . . Committed to MSU in June 2008.
PERSONAL: Born Nickoe E. Whitley on Oct. 2, 1990 . . . Son of Mr. and Mrs. Nickoe Whitley.
WHITLEY’S CAREER HIGHS
Total Tackles – 13, at LSU (11-10-12)
Assisted Tackles – 8, (2x) last at LSU (11-10-12)
Solo Tackles – 6, (3x) last at Auburn (9-14-13)
Interceptions – 2, (2x) last at Auburn (9-14-13)
Long INT Return – 66, vs. South Alabama (9-22-12)
Pass Breakups – 2, (2x) last at Auburn (9-14-13)
Tackles For Loss – 1.5, vs. South Carolina (10-15-11)
Sacks – 1.0, at Alabama (11-13-10)
Forced Fumble - 1, (5x) last vs. Ole Miss (11-28-13)
Fumble Recovery - 1, (3x) last at Arkansas (11-23-13)