Looks like Kodi Whitfield managed to be the “Talk of the Day” in College Football by Making the “CATCH OF THE YEAR”. According ALL THE TOP COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORTS and to our friends at Mercury News editor Tim Kawakami
Was that the college football catch of the year? The greatest, most artistic grab in Stanford history?
Maybe that’s all debatable, but there’s no doubt Kodi Whitfield’s mind-blowing one-handed touchdown reception Saturday was the most spectacular in Whitfield family history.
“He can glove just about anything,” said Kodi’s father, Bob Whitfield, the Stanford offensive lineman great, after his son’s 30-yard TD lit up the Cardinal’s eventual 24-10 victory over UCLA.
“But I’ve never seen the backhand glove. He caught the point of that ball with a reverse grip.
“To catch it there and then tuck it back in, I’m proud of that. I can’t do that!”
Nobody is supposed to be able to do that. Who knew even Kodi Whitfield could do that, until he did.
But Whitfield said he had one thought while Kevin Hogan’s pass was up in the air — and heading toward the first or second row, it looked like.
“You’ve got to catch this one — got to catch this one,” Kodi Whitfield recalled thinking.
“It was one of the few targets I had this week, so I knew I’ve got to make every one of them count …
“I lined up out wide to the left, beat the defender one-on-one, didn’t really see the safety and I guess Hogan didn’t either. But he gave me a chance, threw it up there, and I was able to bring it in with one hand.”
As his father noted, Whitfield cupped the ball backhanded — sort of like Julius Erving before a tomahawk dunk — and also had to snatch it down quickly before safety Anthony Jefferson sailed through the area a split-second later.
And why didn’t he use his left hand on the catch?
“It was actually being pinned by the defender,” Whitfield said. “But luckily I think I have big hands.”
It was an incredible moment, on a national stage, against a top-10-ranked opponent, and it also happened when Stanford and UCLA were locked in a massive defensive struggle.
Whitfield’s TD came on second-and-18 (after a big loss) and put Stanford up 10-3, giving the Cardinal a lead it would never surrender.
Stanford needed this game — after last weekend’s loss in Utah — to get back into the Rose Bowl race; Stanford needed that play.
There was Whitfield, a backup receiver, reaching into the sky and pulling down a minor miracle.
How did he do this?
“I would say genetics,” Stanford coach David Shaw said, “but Bob is 6-7, 335 pounds, so I don’t think it came from Dad. It was just a phenomenal play.
“God bless Kodi; every time we’ve given him an opportunity, he’s made a play. And (starters) Devon Cajuste and Ty Montgomery are playing great. But every time we put Kodi in, he makes a great play.”
A large part of what made the catch instantly indelible was happenstance — Whitfield probably wasn’t the No. 1 option on the play, and if the ball was going his way, it probably should’ve been thrown earlier.
But that’s how minor football miracles occur — something goes a little bit offline, and it takes an epic performance to pluck it back.
“Technically, that ball was thrown extremely late,” Shaw said with a smile.
As both Whitfields related, it was also a major moment for Kodi because before this game, he had only nine receptions this season, with little major impact.
On Saturday: two catches, one with momentous impact.
“That’s helluva way to get off the schneid — no touchdowns all year, and to make a big play at a pivotal time,” Bob Whitfield said. “It changed momentum.
“I think that was an inspiring moment for him because as a receiver, they want the damn ball all the time …
“I think that last time, he was like, ‘This is my opportunity. Go get it.’ I’m proud of that kid.”
Of course, when I asked Kodi what he figured his dad would say to him after the game, he laughed and said he was sure it’d be about blocking.
A few minutes later, Bob Whitfield proved his son correct.
“I get (to) all the bad stuff first — ‘what happened on that run play when that little corner knifed in?’ ” Bob Whitfield said, chuckling. —‰’How come you didn’t dig?’ We go through that first.
“And then we get to, ‘Dang, great glove!’ “
The pressing Whitfield question: Did Bob ever get a chance to showcase his hands by catching a pass in his college or pro career?
Sadly, the answer is no … “but he recovered a couple of fumbles,” Kodi helpfully added.
Now the Whitfield family has quite a highlight. An all-time reception, at a huge moment, and a play that will live on in “SportsCenter” history for a long, long time.
“I’m sure my parents will have a copy for me,” Kodi Whitfield said.
He will see it for the rest of his career, and his life.
All Whitfield wants is to keep catching balls, keep getting chances, and if you keep throwing his way — or anywhere near him — he probably will come down with it.
Read Tim Kawakami’s Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Co