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'No matter where you go, this is home' - honorary captain Willie Whitehead
Honorary captain Willie Whitehead receives ovation during Auburn's win over ULM. Photo: Wade Rackley/Auburn Athletics
Nov. 21, 2017

By Jeff Shearer

AUBURN, Ala. - A walk-on who became a three-year starter and played eight seasons in the NFL, honorary captain Willie Whitehead commanded respect when speaking to the Tigers before Auburn's 42-14 win over Louisiana-Monroe.

"Stay focused, that's the main theme," Whitehead said. "Hard work, and staying focused no matter who you're playing, play each opponent like they're the best you've ever played. When you do that, and execute to perfection, there's nothing you can't accomplish."

Whitehead speaks from experience. As a senior in 1994, Auburn trailed LSU by 14 in the fourth quarter before a flurry of interceptions sparked a 30-26 comeback.

"That's the greatest show of tenacity and never giving up that I've ever experienced," he said. "That would have to be it, other than the Iron Bowl."

A motivational speaker living in Newnan, Georgia, Whitehead's book, "Fix Your Focus," will be released early in 2018.

"I do a lot of mental-edge coaching, teaching guys to stay mentally focused in everything they do," said Whitehead, who grew up 20 miles from Auburn in Tuskegee, Alabama. "Enjoying life, working with kids and helping them with character development, staying on the right path."

Whitehead received a spirited ovation from Auburn fans when he was introduced during the first quarter, bringing back memories of his All-SEC playing days from 1991-94.

"I'm happy to be back," said Whitehead, whose 17 sacks rank No. 8 in Auburn history. "There's nothing like being home in Auburn again. No matter where you go, this is home. I'm happy to be back and happy to be able to inspire the guys for this game. I can't describe it. It's awesome."

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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