Georgia Southern interim head coach Kevin Whitley background
STATESBORO – Although the firing of head coach Chad Lunsford has been very difficult, Georgia Southern athletics director Jared Benko has said selecting his replacement for this season’s interim was a decision easy.
He had observed the close relationship between Third Year Cornerback Coach Kevin Whitley and the Eagles players. Whitley, a former GS student who was a very successful head coach in the state at the high school level, was Benko’s choice among the more experienced members of the coaching staff.
“Early on I realized how connected Coach Whitley is to all the guys,” Benko said Monday following a press conference. “There is a respect there. For us he played here, was an All-American here. He understands my standards and my values and what I expect to make this program align with his. . For me, it was a pretty easy decision. “
Whitley’s first game as interim head coach is Saturday at 4 p.m. against Sun Belt Conference rival Arkansas State (1-3, 0-0 SBC) at Paulson Stadium.
Whitley, 51, said he was still in shock on Monday about changes to the football schedule, which started the season 1-3 with three straight losses, including the Sun Belt’s opener against Louisiana 28- 20 September 25 at Paulson Stadium.
“Sometimes life is off the script and you have to be prepared to write history,” Whitley said, noting he was humbled by the opportunity. “I have been a Georgia Southern Eagle for over 30 years now. It is a very special place to me.”
The Decatur native was a star defensive back at Georgia Southern in 1988-91, winning two NCAA I-AA National Championships. He was an Honorable Mention All-America selection in 1991 by Football Gazette after recording 48 tackles, two interceptions and six broken assists.
He played professionally for four years, signing a free agent contract in the NFL with the New England Patriots in 1992 and later in the CFL for the Toronto Argonauts. The defensive back intercepted two assists in three seasons (1993-96). He was the Rookie of the Year for the Argonauts in 1993.
In 18 seasons as a high school head coach in Georgia (2001-18), Whitley compiled a record 160-55 (0.744), winning seven regional championships and being elected eight times regional coach of the year.
Whitley first coached defensive backs at Redan High in 1996-97, then served as assistant head coach / defensive coordinator at North Springs (1998-2000), where he was promoted to head coach in 2001 and was a coach. for two seasons.
Creekside High was the next stop for six seasons (2003-08). The Seminoles have had three 10-game seasons and Whitley posted an overall record of 52-16.
Whitley then led a turnaround at Stockbridge, which had never won a playoff game before arriving in 2009. The squad went from 97-20 to 2010-18. In 10 years, Whitley was 99-28 with five regional titles, including four in a row from 2014-17. His last four seasons have been a 49-5 combined with three regional titles.
He joined the Lunsford team in Georgia Southern in 2019.
Whitley graduated from Georgia Southern in 1993 with a Business Administration degree with a specialization in Marketing, and received his Masters in Business Education from West Georgia in 2000. He obtained a Leadership Education Specialist certification from Nova Southeastern in 2009.
Whitley and his wife, Star, have a daughter, Camryn, and a son, Avery.
Nathan Dominitz is the sports content editor for Savannah Morning News and savannahnow.com. Email him at [email protected] Twitter: @NathanDominitz