The Office of Development & Alumni Relations recently interviewed alumnus and Carolina Panthers Football Coaching Assistant Cedric Whitaker '15 about his time at Texas Lutheran University and the path that has followed.
What was your time at TLU like as a student?
I really enjoyed my time at TLU, beginning with my first day as a freshman moving into the old Kraushaar dorm. I met several lifelong friends and mentors, all with whom I keep in touch with on a regular basis. Mentorships from professors like Dr. Squires, Dr. Helbig, and Dr. Deike-Short coupled with many long nights spent in the library, allowed me the opportunity of a lifetime to compete on the field as well as in the classroom.
How was your experience as a coach at Texas Lutheran? What did you enjoy the most during this time in your career?
I am forever grateful that I began my coaching career at Texas Lutheran. My former coaches instilled in me strong coaching philosophies, taught me the importance of building relationships, and I had a great deal of love for my players. My greatest memory was seeing those bright-eyed freshmen walk on the field for the first time and then witnessing them become outstanding young men by the end of the season. It was truly amazing to be a part of their journey while experiencing my own.
Explain your journey from student-coach to coaching for the Carolina Panthers.
I coached at TLU for over two full seasons after I graduated. I took advantage of the opportunity to be a Division III football coach by teaching three different positions and taking on multiple roles off the football field. These opportunities prepared me for my next opportunity at Baylor University, where I served as a Defensive Graduate Assistant for two seasons. After this I was blessed with the opportunity to become the Pass Defensive Coordinator, Cornerback and Nickel Backs Coach at Houston Baptist University. After one season I was offered the opportunity to rejoin forces with Coach Matt Rhule in his new role as head coach with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. I am currently a Defensive Assistant Coach in Charlotte, NC.
Millions of people watched the NFL every week, but didn't really see the behind the scenes work that was done to prepare for each game. How has COVID-19 impacted the league and how has this changed the NFL?
COVID-19 had a huge impact on the NFL this past season, and for those that have been players or coaches in the league prior to COVID-19, there was the need for some serious adjusting. Luckily for me, with this being my rookie year as an NFL coach, the adjustment was easier. Most of our meetings and walk-throughs with the players were completed virtually, which gave me the opportunity to become an even better teacher and communicator. This change in formatting from the traditional in-person activities with the team forced me to adjust and make sure the players were still able to get the critical information needed so they were as prepared as possible for game days.
What advice would you like to share with current students?
Enjoy every bit of the process while you earn your degree. Enjoy the relationships that you are building, because you have the chance to meet a potential spouse, new best friends, mentors, business partners, and lifelong colleagues. Everything you do counts and everything you do matters- even those dreaded nights when you are forced to pull an all-nighter! My last piece of advice for current students is to cherish those warm, mouth-watering cookies and bowls of ice cream in Hein. I greatly miss good ole’ Ms. Kim’s hot cookie nights with friends!
Anything else you’d like to share?
Never Let It Rest Until Your Good is Better Than Your Best!