Few college football players will ever have a touchdown catch as spectacular as sophomore Kodi Whitfield’s grab this past Saturday. Even fewer, if any at all, will have as amazing of a catch for their first career touchdown as Whitfield did.
“It didn’t start too well,” Whitfield admitted. “I got pressed at the line. It was more so how could I recover and get in a position for [junior quarterback Kevin] Hogan to throw me the ball. Once I looked back for the ball, it was in the air and [I just thought] I have to catch it at this point.”
Whitfield’s catch will surely wind up as one of college football’s top plays of the season, but unfortunately for him, Shane Victorino’s grand slam to clinch the Boston Red Sox a berth in the World Series stole the number one spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays over the weekend.
“I was a little a disappointed,” remarked Whitfield jokingly about not earning the SportsCenter top play distinction.
Catch or no catch, by virtue of being the son of former Stanford All-American offensive lineman Bob Whitfield ’93, Kodi is always pushed to be his best at blocking by his father, who acts as a mentor from a lineman’s point of view as Kodi plays the game.
“At first, he asked me how I missed that block on 97-Power,” said Kodi about his dad’s first words to him after the game. “We talk football a lot. It’s mostly about how my blocking can improve.”
Another wide receiver that stepped up and earned more playing time against UCLA was junior Jordan Pratt. Pratt, the oldest member of the Cardinal at age 28, played minor league baseball for eight years as a pitcher before choosing to come to Stanford and pursue a degree. Pratt caught his first pass of the year and took it for 13 yards on Saturday.
“He has some valuable experience as far as life goes outside of football,” said Whitfield about Pratt. “An affectionate nickname we have for him is ‘Pratt Daddy’ because he’s a lot older than all of us; he’s one of the guys on the team who’s married as well. He’s a little separated socially from us as well but he loves the game just as much as we do.”
Despite the increasing number of injuries building up among Cardinal players, the injury outlook is relatively bright moving forward. Junior wideout Devon Cajuste, who caught seven passes for 109 yards—the second-highest total of his career—injured his right leg and left the game on Saturday early in the fourth quarter, but the knee appears to not be as seriously injured as originally feared.
“There is a chance Devon Cajuste will play this week,” detailed head coach David Shaw. “No ligament damage, MRI was pretty clean, X-rays pretty clean. It’s probably a little more than a hard-to-deal-with bone bruise, but he’s feeling better, actually ran a little bit yesterday…If he can’t go, he should be ready for Oregon.”
On special teams, senior kicker Jordan Williamson missed the game against UCLA due to a tweaked muscle in his leg and sophomore Conrad Ukropina kicked in his absence, going 1-for-2 on field goal attempts and converting all three extra points. However, Williamson’s absence was felt mostly on kickoffs, as Ukropina’s kickoffs did not quite carry the same distance as Williamson’s, and nearly went out of bounds on several occasions.
Shaw said that he would wait to see if Williamson could practice effectively Wednesday and Thursday before making a decision on whether he would play this Saturday. Even if Williamson can’t play at Oregon State, he should be ready for Oregon, according to Shaw.
Senior defensive end Henry Anderson is also nearing his return after being sidelined due to an injury to his knee in the game against Army. His return would greatly help a banged-up defensive line that has been dealing with nagging injuries to fifth-year senior captain Ben Gardner, senior David Parry and sophomore Ikenna Nwafor.
“Henry Anderson may be back for Oregon, most definitely after Oregon,” Shaw continued. “He’s coming along really well and there’s a chance he could suit up against Oregon.”
Gardner also appeared to reinjure his arm and left the field against UCLA before eventually returning to the playing field later in the game.
“It’s a recurring thing that’s popped up here in the last three weeks since the Washington game,” Gardner shared. “It’s very painful at times, most of the time I’ve been able to deal with it. At this point in the season everybody has their nicks and their bruises that they’ve been dealing with.”
Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.