Devon Witherspoon and Dacarrion McWilliams combine for one of the greatest plays of the season. BRIAN ACHATZ, firstname.lastname@example.org
The reigning Pensacola News Journal Defensive Player of the Year has found his place in NCAA Division I football.
Pine Forest graduate Devon Witherspoon announced he was joining the University of Illinois on Tuesday via his personal Twitter account.
A 6-foot-1, 160-pound defensive back, Witherspoon had 74 tackles, nine pass breakups, and an area-high seven interceptions in his senior 2018 season. He compiled 10 offers by the end of his prep career despite beginning his football career as an upperclassmen.
One of Pensacola’s best all-around athletes, Witherspoon was part of three district championship teams in his senior year at Pine Forest.
Witherspoon’s efforts in the secondary helped Pine Forest’s football team claim the District 1-6A championship and advance to the second round of the state playoffs.
On the basketball court, Witherspoon was one of the area’s top defenders and helped Pine Forest claim a district championship under first-year head coach Ty McCants.
On the track, Witherspoon helped Pine Forest’s boys team reclaim the District 1-3A championship under first-year head coach Brian Fisher.
Witherspoon was a standout high jumper and part of multiple championship-winning relay teams, including a Class 3A state runner-up finish in the 4×100-meter relay.
His efforts across three sports earned him the honor of overall PNJ Male Athlete of the Year at the annual PNJ sports banquet held at the Saenger Theater.
Witherspoon was set to play at Hutchinson Community College (Kansas), but earned summer qualification earlier this month when he passed his June 1 SAT.
At Illinois, Witherspoon will play under former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith. The Fighting Illini are just 9-27 in three seasons under Smith, but Illinois’ four wins in 2018 were the most so far in his tenure.
Eric J. Wallace can be reached at email@example.com or 850-525-5087.