Nikita Whitlock was willing to do anything to play in the NFL – and he’s more than happy to do a bit of everything to stay there.
Whitlock was involved in all phases of the New York Giants’ 32-21 win over the Washington Redskins on Thursday night, seeing time at fullback, on special teams and, most surprisingly, defensive tackle – his "dream."
Best snap line for Giants: Nikita Whitlock played 14 snaps at fullback, 9 at defensive tackle, 20 on special teams. Earning his keep.
So imagine his surprise when the Giants sent out Whitlock to play on the defensive front in a must-win game – even though he had never attended a defensive meeting. Whitlock did not look out of his element and even laid a hit on Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins.
“I love playing DT, it’s my dream," Whitlock said. "That’s kind of where I grew up, it’s how I feel. It’s like riding a bike."
@JohnCassillo@kevinbaumer I wouldn’t mind a Nikita Whitlock jersey. Our FB played DT last night too. Nuts. Got a hit on Cousins.
Whitlock, who was in the camps of both the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys last season, earned All-ACC honors at Wake Forest, but he had to face the reality that there’s not much of a market for 5-foot-10, 250-pound nose tackles at the next level.
Realizing his future in the NFL was on the other side of the ball, Whitlock dropped some weight in preparation to play fullback/special teams. He did receive a cameo at defensive tackle in the waning moments of New York’s final preseason game but didn’t view that as a precursor to seeing time there in the regular season.
Nikita Whitlock playing DT now… Can't remember the last time a Giants player played both sides of the ball in the regular season
"I didn’t know how they felt about me, but obviously they’ve got a little bit of trust in me," Whitlock told NJ.com after the game. "I guess that’s something I’ve got to start watching film and stuff, I felt a little rusty."
Giants coach Tom Coughlin, not one to hand out compliments easily, lauded the play of Whitlock. “He’s a multi-task, multi-talented guy who can rush the passer, plays fullback as you all know, is on all of the special teams,” Coughlin said. “He’s got great energy, this kid.”