Jason Whitaker made his way to Tallahassee from tiny Lynn Haven near Panama City Beach, rated as the fourth-best offensive tackle in Florida high school athletics. That ranking was well earned, as Whitaker possessed a big long frame and quick feet. However, Florida State offensive line coach Jimmy Heggins moved Whitaker to offensive guard, and he redshirted his freshman year in 1995.
But Heggins knew what he was doing. Cutting an imposing figure at 6’5 and 300 pounds, Whitaker is known for his hard-nosed play style, and for playing through multiple injuries in his time in the Garnet and Gold. That’s what makes his ascent in the college football world so impressive. Despite playing right in the middle of FSU’s dynasty with some of the most talented teams in school history it didn’t take Whitaker long to earn a starting spot, securing it just halfway through his redshirt freshman season in 1996. As a sophomore in ‘97 Whitaker made the All-ACC second team.
It was as a junior and senior that Whitaker solidified his legacy as one of the greatest Seminoles. He was named a first team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America in 1998 as a junior, and a third team All-American by the Associated Press. He was also named a member of the All-ACC Academic team, and a first-team All-ACC selection.
As a senior leader on FSU’s loaded 1999 team opening running lanes for Travis Minor and company and blocking for quarterback Chris Weinke, Whitaker was named a consensus All-American by no less than six publications. They include the American Football Coaches Association, the Associated Press, and the FWAA again. If it wasn’t for The Sporting News listing him as a second team All-American Whitaker surely would have been an unanimous All-American. Of course, in 1999 FSU made history as the first team in NCAA history to go wire-to-wire No. 1, winning a national championship in an undefeated season. It was FSU’s 13th season finishing in the top five of the AP and Coaches Poll.
Despite the consensus All-American status, one of just 45 in school history, Whitaker went undrafted by the NFL, and found a career in coaching.