Checking in with Charlie

Charlie Whitehurst

CUTigers recently caught up with former Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, who now finds himself as the backup signal caller with the Seattle Seahawks.

While playing time has been rare for Charlie Whitehurst during his first four seasons in the NFL, expectations for the former Clemson quarterback remain high.

After the Chargers took him in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft, he spent his entire time in San Diego as the backup to Phillip Rivers, who is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the entire league.

All told, he has thrown a total of two passes during his time in San Diego between 2006 and 2009 but in the off-season, he was traded to Seattle for a third-round pick in the 2011 draft.

He came to the Seahawks expected to contend with Matt Hasselbeck for the top spot but after the dust settled late in preseason, it became apparent he will be the No. 2 signal caller in the Emerald City - for now.

Despite being a backup again, Whitehurst is approaching his new team much like he's a rookie all over again.

Charlie you've talked about this before with us but fans always love to hear about it - reflect for a second on your time at Clemson and what it meant to you.
Whitehurst: It's amazing that it's been so long now. It seems like for a long time it was such a huge part of my life and I had only been gone for a year or two. Now that it's been five years, when you reflect, you start looking at it from a more mature standpoint. I can say it was a great time in my life. I had a great time going to school there and playing football was probably better than I would have expected going there. I was able to play earlier than I thought. I had a bunch of games that were memorable for me, the friendships and all. It couldn't have been any better.

"That actually means a lot," Whitehurst said of going 4-0 against South Carolina. "A lot of the other stuff, not really but that one matters. I remember before I played that last game against them, I was kind of downplaying it but if it wouldn't have happened, it would have been demoralizing obviously. I was thankful we were able to win that last game and make it 4-0 against those guys."
How much does it still mean to you to know that you were a perfect 4-0 against South Carolina during your time as a Tiger?
Whitehurst: That actually means a lot. A lot of the other stuff, not really but that one matters. I remember before I played that last game against them, I was kind of downplaying it but if it wouldn't have happened, it would have been demoralizing obviously. I was thankful we were able to win that last game and make it 4-0 against those guys. It's definitely something I cherish along with all the other guys I played with. I'm not the only one that's 4-0 against those guys. I'm just the only quarterback. There are a bunch of us and we take it pretty seriously for sure.

Now that you are in Seattle, what about your time in San Diego?
Whitehurst: I had a great time and learned a lot of football. I was lucky to be around some great guys like Norv Turner, Phillip [Rivers] and some great players. We were able to win a bunch of games. I learned a ton of football from those guys, had a good time and look back on it fondly for sure.

Did you kind of feel like it was time to move on?
Whitehurst: Yeah, I thought that it was definitely time. I was really excited about the opportunity. There is a familiarity there in San Diego and some friendships but the most important thing for me was getting a chance for my career. I was given a chance by Pete [Carroll] and John Snyder. I'm going to do my best to maximize that opportunity.

How have things been with the Seahawks thus far?
Whitehurst: It's been good. You watch a guy for 10 years coach for SC (Pete Carroll) and then all of a sudden, you're there with him. He's had an awesome track record. He's a very unique coach. I believe that we'll be successful here under his leadership. It's been great.

How is your relationship with Matt Hasselbeck?
Whitehurst: It's been good. I think that I've learned a lot from Matt and hopefully I can be the guy that he can bounce things off of, another set of eyes for him during the game and we can kind of work together there. It's been a great relationship from the start. I'm excited about the season.

"It's been a while since I've been to Death Valley. It's a special place. I always go back when I can."
How much have you changed since your rookie year in the NFL?
Whitehurst: Well, there's definitely an overall understanding about offensive football. It's on a much higher level at this stage. I think that I've learned a ton of football in the last four years. I learned some at Clemson for sure but that spread offense was an easier, simpler offense. What I learned at Clemson was how to complete the ball, how to complete it because it wasn't very sophisticated but you had to complete it against coverage. I learned how to do that, how to pass the ball down the field. I think in the last four years, I've learned about the scheme in offensive football and hopefully how to put the two together.

Any thoughts on Clemson's current quarterback, Kyle Parker?
Whitehurst: I think he's an exciting player. I haven't seen him play all that many games but he's definitely a great athlete. I've seen him play as much baseball as I have football really. I think it's awesome what he's done. I've talked to him very briefly a few times. With him but just the time demands, it's incredible he's been successful in two different sports. With the going back and forth, I think that's pretty awesome. I think he's a good player. He's got the gunslinger mentality for sure and he's exciting to watch.

When's the last time you made it to Death Valley for a game and do you plan on doing so this fall?
Whitehurst: I didn't see a game last year but the first three years, I was able to see a game on my bye week. It's been a while since I went to Clemson. I think in '08, I saw them play in Boston College. I was in the area and saw them play there but in the years prior, I saw them play at home. It's been a while since I've been to Death Valley. It's a special place. I always go back when I can.

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