Whittaker headed to Super Bowl 50 with Carolina

PEARLAND — The stage is set for the Carolina Panthers who will meet the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, February 7, 2016 at Levi Stadium, the new home of the San Fransisco 49ers.

The Panthers are Super Bowl bound for the second time in franchise history after defeating the Arizona Cardinals, 49-15, in the NFC Championship Game.

The Pearland community will be represented as former Pearland Oiler and University of Texas running back Fozzy Whittaker, who wears No. 43, and will be dressed in Carolina blue on the historical occasion.

Whittaker carried the ball twice against the Cardinals while running back a kickoff for 19 yards.

The speedster entered the NFL as a free agent with the San Diego Chargers in 2013. He was picked up on waivers prior to the start of the 2013 season by the Cleveland Browns where he had 28 carries for 79 yards and 21 catches for 155 yards and two TDs.

He was acquired by Carolina in 2014 and 2015 was his first full season with the team.

In 2014, he had 32 carries for 145 yards and one touchdown while catching five passes for 60 yards and another score.

In 2015, he had 25 totes for 108 yards with one TD while grabbing 12 passes for 64 yards.

While at Pearland, it came as no surprise that Whittaker was named District 24-5A "Most Valuable Player" two consecutive years after breaking the Pearland High School single-game and single-season rushing marks while closing out his illustrious high school career as the No. 6 Class 5A all-time leading rusher in Texas football history. This honor adds to being selected as the Offensive Player of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Houston. He was also a first-team All-State selection by the Texas Sports Writers Association his senior season in 2006.

Whittaker led the Oilers to the Class 5A Div. I state-semifinals where they barely lost to Austin Westlake.

While at Pearland, Whittaker set new single-game and single-season rushing marks which was later broken by RB Dustin Garrison, when the Oilers won the 2010 Class 5A Div. I state championship.

He rushed for 415 yards against Clear Creek to set the new PHS and Houston area single-game rushing record. The speedster was also an honor student in the classroom and had his priorities in order to being identified as a true student-athlete.

Whittaker finished the 2006 season with 2,774 yards. The UT standout also moved up as the No. 6 Class 5A all-time leading rusher with 5,717 yards. He moved ahead of former Pearland running back Brandon Roberson (5,235), who dropped to No. 9, while former Pearland RB Anthony Evans is at the No. 3 slot with 6,192 yards.

The winsome Whittaker is the fourth Oiler to be on an NFL team that advanced to the Super Bowl.

Former Pearland Oiler Ricky Churchman, who played two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, was drafted in the fourth round of the 1980 NFL Draft after playing college football at the University of Texas at Austin. He was a member of the 49ers team that won Super Bowl XVI.

Former all-around athlete Jarrod Cooper, who graduated from PHS in 1996, played at Kansas State before being drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the fifth round as the 143rd overall pick. Cooper played on the 2003 Carolina team that made their first appearance in the 2003 Super Bowl that was hosted in Houston.

There have been other players that made it to an NFL team including Anthony Dickerson (SMU, Dallas, Buffalo 1980-1985), Travis Hill (Nebraska, Cleveland, Carolina 1994-95), and Cyril Obiozor (Texas A&M, Green Bay, Arizona, San Diego 2009-2010).

Pearland's other most active NFL performer is New Orleans Saints punter/kicker Thomas Morstead who played for the Oilers in 2003 and moved on to play at SMU. He was drafted in the fifth round as the 164th overall pick in 2009.

Morstead was instrumental in helping the Saints win the 2009 Super Bowl XLIV over the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning.

Morstead executed an onside kick during the second half kickoff. The Saints recovered the ball and were able to convert that possession into a touchdown and a 13-10 lead. The Saints would eventually win the game 31-17.

Pearlanders need to realize that Morstead, Whittaker, and Obiozor were under the coaching guidance of Pearland head coach Tony Heath and Dawson head coach Eric Wells when he was the offensive coordinator for the Oilers.

These players were well prepared when they left Pearland to compete at the next level and now at the highest level. Pearland has much to be grateful for to have these two men and their coaching staffs guiding the lives of our gridiron players.