Former area star named NACC Offensive Player of the Year

Published 12:07 am Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Lakeland University quarterback Michael Whitley has had an illustrious playing career, previously being named first-team all-Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference and NACC Offensive Player of the Year in 2015 after throwing for more than 3,000 yards and tallying 34 passing touchdowns.

This past Friday, the former Trinity Episcopal star added to his impressive résumé.

Whitley was named the NACC Offensive Player of the Year after tallying 2,318 yards passing and 19 touchdown passes while just throwing seven interceptions.

Email newsletter signup

“Individual honors are always driven by your team,” Whitley said. “The only way you can get awards is if your teammates are doing their job, especially in football. The guys on the outside made it easy for me. And the coaches, they always put me in the best position to succeed and called good plays.”

It was a bittersweet weekend for the Vidalia native, however, as the Muskies (7-4) fell on the road to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (11-0) in the first round of the Division III playoffs, 45-27.

Wisconsin-Whitewater entered the contest ranked No. 1 in the country. The junior signal-caller managed to throw for 339 yards and three scores and tacked on 39 yards rushing, but it wasn’t enough as his junior campaign came to a close.

“They are the No. 1 defense in the country,” Whitley said. “We knew coming in the way we could potentially beat them was having me throw the ball a lot and getting it to my skill guys and allowing them to make plays. I made a few bad reads and a few turnovers, and if we could have eliminated those, it could have potentially been a different outcome.

“As a team, we did pretty good. We won the conference and went to the playoffs. I just wish we could have gone a little deeper.”

Whitley signed with Lakeland in 2014 after a stellar prep career, which included a MAIS Class A football state championship.

“Lakeland is a small school, a loving environment that’s family oriented and everybody is close,” he said. “It’s a place like the Miss-Lou area — it’s small and everyone knows you and supports you.”

The 6-foot, 180 pounder is studying business management and accounting and boasted a 3.5 grade-point average at midterm.

Throughout his tenure at Lakeland, Whitley said he has received overwhelming support from friends, family and the community back in the Miss-Lou.

“It’s one of the main reasons that keeps me going and keeps me staying focused on doing the right things,” Whitley said. “It’s amazing, and I honestly can’t say enough about how much I’m appreciative about it. They could be going about their life, but they choose to support me.”