Lantern file photo
Jordan Whiting could be playing for an Ohio State football team that won all 12 of its games last season, or playing for a Louisville team that upset Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
Formerly an OSU linebacker, Whiting transferred to Louisville prior to the 2012 season. He was not eligible to play for the Cardinals last season, due to NCAA rules requiring players who transfer between Football Bowl Subdivision schools to sit out one year before playing for their new school.
His career at Louisville, however, ended before it even began because of a failed drug test.
“When I first got here, I was hanging out with a buddy of mine, and unfortunately, hanging out with him, not really thinking too clearly, I decided to take a few hits of marijuana,” Whiting told The Lantern in January. “I failed my first drug test of my college career.”
This wasn’t the first time Whiting made a mistake that affected his college football career. On Dec. 23, 2010, Whiting received a one-game ban as one of six OSU football players suspended for receiving improper benefits from Eddie Rife, owner of Fine Line Ink tattoo parlor. Those violations, dubbed “Tattoo-Gate” by many, eventually resulted in the Buckeyes vacating the results of their 2010 season, being banned from postseason play in 2012 and losing nine scholarships over a three-year period.
Whiting said his violation came as a result of accepting a discount on a tattoo and said he did not realize he was receiving a discount at the time. “It’s a learning experience and unfortunately some rules, even though we don’t necessarily agree with them, they still are rules,” Whiting said.
Whiting said the hardest part of the situation was dealing with the criticism he and his suspended teammates received.
“I learned that some people can be very cruel,” Whiting said. “A lot of the guys, not necessarily me, but some guys were getting death wishes via email.
“None of those athletes, including myself, ever would bring harm to any other person out here,” Whiting added.
Whiting has tattoos on both of his arms, his chest and his back, which he said “mean everything” to him.
“My tattoos are all religion and family,” Whiting said. “I don’t have one tattoo that you could look at and be like, ‘What does that mean?’ or ‘Why would you get that tatted on you?’ or anything like that.
“I love tattoos,” Whiting added. “I guess you could say it’s somewhat of an addiction.”
Whiting remained with the Buckeyes in 2011 after serving his suspension but transferred to Louisville that spring. His three-year career at OSU consisted of one redshirt year and two playing seasons, but only one career tackle.
Whiting said he became more mature as a result of his experience at OSU.
“It was a growing pain that I had to go through,” Whiting said. “I think me being at Ohio State, it wasn’t for me to shine as an athlete, it was for me to grow up as a man.”
By blowing his opportunity to play at Louisville with his failed drug test, Whiting said he disappointed himself and his family.
“I made a bad decision, and unfortunately that bad decision did lead to me not being a part of the team anymore,” Whiting said. “I don’t blame them for that decision, I don’t blame anybody else but myself, but you live and you learn and you move on, and that’s the only thing you can do.”
Whiting hasn’t given up on his football dreams quite yet. He said he is continuing to pursue a career in professional football. He told The Lantern earlier this month that he had not yet received interest from NFL teams leading up to the 2013 NFL draft.
“I’m not ready to tell the game goodbye, and not under these circumstances,” Whiting said. “I’d rather tell the game goodbye under circumstances that I cannot control. Whether it be because I got hurt, or whether it be because I got cut from a team, or retirement … I can accept that, but I cannot accept telling the game goodbye off of my bad decisions. I feel like I have a lot to bring to a team.”
OSU assistant coach Luke Fickell said it is critical for Whiting to take advantage of any opportunity he gets if he is going to make it at the next level.
“He’s a guy that’s got some physical tools and ability, and you know, anybody that finds the right place and the right situation and at the right time has a chance to be successful,” Fickell said. “You have a chance and you get an opportunity, the window is slight and you got to take advantage of all those opportunities.”
Etienne Sabino, who is pursuing his own NFL dreams and could be selected in the 2013 NFL Draft as an outside linebacker, played with Whiting at OSU from 2009-2011. He said Whiting “looked good in drills,” although Whiting did not get much chance to play.
“He definitely had a lot of ability,” Sabino said. “He has a lot of potential, and I know he’s a strong kid so I wish him the best of luck.”
Whiting said it would mean “the world” to him if he gets a chance to play in the NFL, but he is also working on other pursuits. He is enrolled to resume classes at OSU this summer and work toward completing his degree in marketing. He is also a founder of a marketing consulting company (J. Infinity LLC) and is writing a book, which he said is titled “A Developing Man.” Whiting said he also wants to start a foundation to benefit and mentor low-income children.
Whiting said he “would never make the same mistake twice,” has learned from his mistakes and hopes young athletes can also learn from his story.
“I’ve played over 17 years of football and I’ve been a part of five different organizations,” Whiting said. “I’ve earned 12 championship rings, 10 in high school, 2 in college. I’ve been to three BCS bowl games and I was one season away from what I would like to see as my blowout season. But one thing that prevented all that from happening was one bad decision. And that’s all it takes.”