Who-ey Whittaker?

Rex Ryan left Jet fans perplexed and guessing last week after an interview in which he was asked about the battle for the #2 wide receiver position. His statement "I think there will be a surprise coming out as receiver as well, and I’m not going to say it but this one kid, all he does is make plays.” got my mind working. Who could he be talking about? Someone on the roster, but not one of the 4 front-runners. Always leave it to Rex to make things interesting.
My first guess for this mystery receiver is Huey Whittaker - I remember seeing him this year at mini-camp and being really impressed by his size. At 6'2 and 220lbs he is one of the bigger WR's on the roster right now. His speed running routes caught my attention; I made a mental note to keep an eye on his performance once training camp began.
Whittaker played wide receiver at the University of South Florida from 2001-03. He started in 21 games and hauled in 117 receptions for 1,447 yards and seven touchdowns. He was originally signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent, was cut and joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad. After a summer playing for the Berlin Thunder (NFL Europe), Whittaker began his AFL career. Most recently Whittaker had his most successful season recording 126 receptions for 1541 yards and 40 touchdowns, claiming a spot on the top 5 WR's in the AFL, and being named to the First-Team All Arena in 2008.
Ironically Whittaker spent the first 6 years of his life with his legs casted. Whittaker suffered from severe genu-varum ( bow leggedness) and had his legs broken and casted every 2 weeks. In a recent interview Huey states:
Before I even played, I said wanted to be a professional football player. I could have been a few inches shorter, too, so I’m glad they broke them and got them straightened out, It’s ironic that I actually got the chance to play and it’s kind of worked out.”
Huey Whittaker #18 may be one to watch in the upcoming weeks at camp, we may be pleasantly surprised by his receiving abilities and speed, especially after coming off such a successful season. Many of the other contenders for WR on the Jets roster have limited experience since being drafted. Some may argue that AFL experience is invaluable. Whittaker may have an edge after being a part of the fast paced, high-flying wide-open style of the AFL. It will be interesting to see how that experience translates next week at camp.