For Brady Whitmore, a love for football started in the second grade. Learning attributes like teamwork, discipline, and goal setting while playing a competitive game captured his young heart. Over a decade later, his love for the game has magnified and intensified.
At Charlotte Latin School, he made the varsity roster all four years and was a threat on both sides of the ball. He is most known for his abilities on defense, playing outside linebacker. His natural instincts help him get a step on much larger offensive lineman. In addition, he is extremely fast which helps him keep up with slot receivers and running backs in pass coverage. These abilities are what make teams spend extra time studying his mannerisms on the field and cause the opponent to fear lining up across from him.
Brady has excelled on the field, but not without many tribulations along the way. In just one year, he suffered more injuries than the average player experiences in his whole career. His journey had many bumps along the way, but he found strength inside of him he never knew existed, and persevered through everything.
During the second semester of his junior year, he was playing basketball and jumped up to dunk the ball. When he came down, he planted wrong and tore his ACL. This injury often sidelines players for nine months. From the day Brady tore his ACL to the first game of the season was a mere six and a half months. He knew that it would take extreme determination and focus in rehabilitation to get back on the field in time. With help from family, friends, trainers, and coaches, he was cleared in late July and able to participate in camp.
He excelled on the field throughout the season and received attention from many colleges. In a game against Charlotte Country Day School on Senior Night, Brady caught an interception and ran the ball into the end zone for a pick 6. It was the biggest individual highlight of his high school career. Two plays later, he was hit, and his leg twisted the wrong way. Thankfully, it was not the same leg he previously injured. An MRI concluded it was a partial MCL tear and he was allowed to play the last two games of the season.
The pressure of being a star football player, and a key to offensive and defensive success is a tough burden to bear for any player. It is especially hard when you have to battle through injury recoveries during the most important season of your high school career. It took a large amount of mental and physical strength for Brady to come back better than before after each injury. He compares his road to recovery to climbing a mountain.
“I understood from the beginning that it would not be a straight ascent. In order to climb a mountain you have to stop for periods of time or even descend in order to adjust to the altitude,” says Brady. “While I'm admittedly pushing this metaphor to its limits, I viewed every ounce of pain, discouraging thought, or setback as a necessary part of my ascent, just as a break or a minor descent is necessary to a mountain climber.”
In the spring, he returned for a routine check-up to insure his knee was healing properly. However, this MRI showed that the previous scan missed a partial ACL tear, which now turned into a second full-blown ACL injury. “I had surgery two and a half weeks ago, and this surgery is going even smoother than the last,” says Brady.
Because of the amount of injuries he suffered, his recruitment process was much different than he could have predicted. “My experience with those coaches really opened me up to the harshness of the real world, in that you could work as hard as possible but still not have your initial dreams come true,” he said.
Before his first ACL injury, he drew interest from many Ivy and Patriot League schools. His inability to attend camps and relying on just his junior year film put him at a disadvantage to healthy players.
Once interest from Ivy and Patriot League schools started to diminish, he got into contact with regional schools that had seen his senior year film, which boasted his talent even when battling injuries.
Mercer University, a small private school in Macon, Georgia, is where Brady has decided to spend his college years. He did not want to potentially sacrifice his professional career in order to have four more years on the field. Mercer offered a perfect balance of academics and athletics.
Looking back on the recruiting process, Brady’s eyes were opened to new perspectives and he began to see his situation from a different view. One of the biggest lessons he learned was that, just because it is not your ‘Plan A’ does not mean it is a worse option.
Brady is a very unique football player. He has experienced times of extreme high and times of extreme low that have shaped him into the man and player he is today.
Playing for Charlotte Latin, he was exposed to an unusual amount of inclusivity than what usually exists in a football locker room. It did not matter who you were off the field, whether you boasted Division 1 offers and a popular name on campus, or a freshman that has never played a down on varsity. Every player respects and cares for one another.
One of the biggest impacts on Brady was the inspiring words of senior teammate, Sam Wilson, when we was a freshman. After a devastating blowout against their rival school, Charlotte Christian, in the state championship, Brady went to thank his teammate for being a wonderful mentor to him throughout the season.
For Sam Wilson, his high school football years were now over, and in front of him stood a freshman with his whole career ahead of him. He left Brady with a message that, four years later, still inspires him more than any other. He reminded him that he has the potential and ability to be a great football player, and to never let anyone tell him differently. As long as he kept working at his craft, there would be nothing able to hold him back. Sam was right – Brady had a rocky future ahead of him and life would throw many challenges his way, but his love for the game never changed, and it is the reason he is one of the very few players committed to play at the next level.
Looking back on that moment, Brady says, “…it was the true emotion behind what he said that really demonstrated for the first time the true value of football, in that it establishes real and enduring bonds between people who otherwise would never even have spoken to each other.”
Because of the great leadership Brady had since joining the varsity team, it truly affected who he is both on and off the field. Remembering how much he appreciated the smallest gestures of kindness and inclusivity as a freshman, he strives to be approachable to every one on the team. He has turned into the guy he once looked up to. Now, he is the role model and mentor for younger players.
Over the next four years at Mercer, Brady wants to focus on getting bigger and stronger. This is not high school anymore; you are now playing against the most athletic and competitive guys in the country. “If I don’t improve on those things, I’ll find myself getting pancaked more often than not.”
In the past year, Brady has experienced more adversity than most players his age. He has been knocked down many times. However, every time he was knocked down, he not only got up, but also got up stronger than before. His journey thus far has taught him many skills to make him a very successful player, and a very successful man. He knows what it feels like to have defeat loom over, and knows how to triumph.
Mercer fans can rest easy knowing the type of player they are getting in Brady Whitmore. They are getting a player who is both mentally and physically tough, and determined to succeed. He hates losing, more than anything, and will bring a positive aggressiveness to the locker room each day. Mercer football is not just getting a football player - they are getting a warrior.
Brady’s Advice: You will never be disappointed in yourself if you know you worked your hardest. Never let your work ethic be the reason you fail.