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Quincey Whittington’s powerful story: NFL or bust, from suicidal to redefining success

One on one with the former star running back, the brother, and the trainer, Quincey Whittington. He opens up exclusively to BON, telling his story of recovering from suicidal thoughts following a failed football career to becoming a mentor to and inspiration for young athletes.

A Brother’s Love - Quincey embraces his younger brother Jordan
Photo Credit: The Whittington Family

Athletes are taught to chase their dream. That dream is the NFL. This is a story of caution and redefining success it’s the story of Quincey Whittington, the older brother of 2019 Texas Longhorns wide receiver target Jordan Whittington, but it’s also the story of many athletes who live in the shadows of their former accomplishments.

There was a time when Whittington no longer wanted to live. He was a man amongst us without the desire or will to simply be. It takes a lot for a man’s mind to arrive at that dark place and time. His story repeats itself far too frequently for high school and college athletes, but it’s a story that doesn’t get told often enough.

Bag chasers

We train young men to be tough. We ingrain in their minds to hide any sign of vulnerability. And if you want to be an elite athlete, you are taught that a glimpse of sheer humanity can be a sign of weakness. You are literally driven to believe that only one thing can define your success and your worth — to chase that dream with a singular focus. Parents, coaches, and trainers will all support your dream, to chase the NFL bag, as in bags of money.

Here’s the problem with that approach — the kid taking on and absorbing all that pressure, all that mental conditioning, is destined to fail in most cases.

That’s what happened to Quincey Whittington. He was a coveted recruit in the class of 2008 and enrolled at SMU on scholarship. He was driven to chase the NFL dream.

It was in his blood. His uncle Arthur Whittington had a very successful career in the NFL, playing five seasons with the Oakland Raiders and the Buffalo Bills, and was part of the 1978 Super Bowl championship team. So for Whittington, it was seemingly meant to be — the path from Cuero to SMU and to the NFL had already been forged by his uncle before him.

Journey Into an abyss

But instead, reality hit. This path is never guaranteed. After spending a season at SMU and a season at Santa Rosa Junior College, Whittington injured his leg, ending his football aspirations. He’d had spent his childhood, youth, and young adult life focused on one goal, so when it didn’t happen, the feeling of defeat and failure was overwhelming — as it would be for any young man in this situation. In his mind, against his only goal in life, he had failed.

Depression crept into his mind and tried to take over his very existence. Painfully, Whittington admits, “I had thoughts of suicide. I didn’t want to be on this earth any more.”

Quincey had a choice to make. He could accept the reality — he could embrace failure and drown in its darkness. An abyss that included thoughts of suicide were threatening to engulf him entirely. His future was literally on the line.

Or, he could choose to redefine success. He could set a new standard, one that started from a place of wisdom that only comes through life experience.

He chose the latter and humbly shares his story with young athletes every opportunity he gets.

Redefining success

His lesson is simple. It’s okay to believe. It’s okay to chase that dream. But “your goal,” he teaches, “should be to get an education. Your goal should be to plan for a successful future without, or after, going pro.” He set out to become a world-class trainer with a well-rounded focus. He wanted young athletes to be healthy both physically and mentally. He wanted them to define success with long-term goals, with an education being paramount.

“I teach them more than a sport. I teach them life,” Whittington explains.

Today he uses his own story and life experience to inspire young athletes to succeed, not just on the field, but in life. And his efforts as an athletic trainer have already yielded great success.

Three of his first athletes are now household names among recruiting junkies: Jordan Moore (Texas A&M commit), Joshua Moore (Nebraska commit), and Bralen Taylor (Baylor commit). And of course, there’s one elite recruit in particular that fans of both high school and college football know well — Jordan Whittington, his younger brother.

Jordan Whittington

The development of Jordan Whittington was not as destined as the family path once seemed. In fact, Jordan was not assumed to follow or expected to follow in the path of his uncle or his older brother. No one pressured him to pursue that high-stakes dream like the men in his family before him. He was allowed to choose for himself and due to an early childhood injury, it was not a foregone conclusion at all.

As a child, Jordan fell off a horse, causing him to run with a stiff-legged gait that would require a lot of work to overcome and eventually develop into proper form again as he grew and trained. Even the training was never a foregone conclusion. It would have to be his choice — as his own man.

It was in the 7th grade when a young Jordan Whittington couldn’t resist his love for football and approached his older brother, who many athletes call “Pops”.

The grind

As Jordan’s development progressed, his training intensified, with Pops pushing him to prepare as if he was a college athlete preparing for the NFL Combine. He was never training for high school — he was always training with a long-term endgame in mind. And Jordan naturally pushed himself, as he was self-motivated and hungry for development. He attended college camps with the older kids and coaches immediately began to take notice of his high IQ when it came to naturally understanding the game of football. His instincts stood out, and coaches knew his ceiling was very high.

“I want an education.

He began to set goals. He wanted a Division 1 offer his freshman year. Together they worked to publish a video that highlighted his introduction and skills to college coaches. It worked. Within a week, Jordan had his first D1 offer from Baylor University. The Bears coaches immediately recognized they had stumbled upon a talented young man, so they urged him to take the video down, hoping to keep their secret find to themselves as long as possible. But other schools soon began to follow, including Houston and TCU, both of whom also offered him as a freshman in high school.

His trainer and older brother makes it clear, “It was 100% Jordan. I supported him. I did not make him,” Quincey told BON.

The humble nod from the older brother stems back to respecting his initial answer when he asked why he wanted to train and what he wanted in the end. The younger Whittington never mentioned the NFL. Instead, he said, “I want an education.”

That was a goal his older brother could support, saying, “He’s just a humble kid. I’ve never told him, ‘You’re going to the NFL’. I’m a realist.”

Having learned from his experience, the older brother helps to ensure that Jordan and any other athletes he trains are always kept grounded. There’s no pitch of false hopes or dreams — instead, there’s a realistic reminder that it all could be gone in an instant.

All smiles — Jordan Whittington with his trainer and older brother Quincey Whittington
Photo Credit: The Whittington Family

Success in life

Quincey Whittington has redefined success. It is not about a singular end point, the NFL. It’s about success in life, Today, athletes of all ages across many sports from calf roping to football, and all in between, including volleyball, baseball, swimming, and many other sports, travel across South Texas to train with Pops in Cuero. They train to improve their strength, power, speed, flexibility, explosiveness, and diet, sure. But they also, they train to develop life goals that will sustain them long after sports is over —to focus on an education, and success in life.

Pops wouldn’t have it any other way.