Trent Whittemore can’t help but smile as he reminisced on the days he and his big brother, Luke Whittemore, would step onto Citizens Field and be coached by their father, Mark Whittemore.
“My best memories are definitely playing for my dad and with my brother, my older brother (Luke),” said the Gainesville native.
“I can remember one week in particular, I had come up with a play idea, and we were going to play Bartram Trail, which is a big district rivalry and still is for Buchholz and Bartram,” Trent added. “We were able to put the play in, and that’s one pro of having your dad as head coach. You can tell him something at home, and he might actually listen.”
When Trent’s play was put into the game, Luke ended up scoring off it in the second half. The Bobcats gained a 17-10 victory on their district rival’s home field.
“It was a huge win for the team,” Trent said. “I think that was really one of my favorite memories from all of high school football.”
Luke Whittemore has similar memories of sharing the field with his brother.
“Particularly during my junior season, when Trent was a freshman, we completed a few fourth-quarter comebacks that we still reminisce on. At that point in time, it was Buchholz’s best season in years, and to be able to experience that with family, after all we’d invested in the school, was special.”
Following high school, Trent Whittemore was recruited by the University of Florida, where he played as a receiver for the Orange & Blue for four years.
Now, Whittemore will return to the Black & Gold as he will finish his collegiate career following in his father’s footsteps. Whittemore announced on Jan. 7 that he will be transferring to the University of Central Florida as a graduate student with two years of eligibility remaining. His father was a key player for Knight Nation and made a name for himself in the early 1990s, in what was then known as the Football Championship Subdivision.
“I’m really grateful to get the chance to put on that same uniform that he did, and that means a lot,” Trent Whittemore said.
Mark Whittemore was also no stranger to the Black & Gold when he joined Knight Nation, as he was once a receiver at Buchholz. He led the Bobcats to the 1990 4A Florida State Championship, in which they took down Dillard 24-7.
After playing in the NFL, Mark Whittemore would find his way back to Buchholz where he would go on to coach three of his four sons: Luke, Trent, and Creed Whittemore. After 28 years as a football coach for the Bobcats, and 12 years as head coach, Mark Whittemore announced his retirement at the conclusion of Creed’s high school senior season in December 2022.
“I think he’s excited that I’m here now, and I get to hopefully carry on that legacy that he started here,” Trent Whittemore said of his dad. “He obviously had a heck of a career, so I’m excited to be able to try and carry that on. He came down here to help me move in the other day, and he’s really excited.”
Trent Whittemore added how his father has shared many stories with him and his brothers from his time playing at UCF.
“He has one funny story about when he was at a basketball game,” Trent Whittemore said. “He and one of his buddies ran out on the court and led the crowd in a cheer. They weren’t supposed to be out there, but they ran out there and led a cheer. He did a backflip out on the court and got the crowd fired up. That’s one that he likes to tell a lot.”
Friday Night Lights have always been at the heart of the Whittemore family. Trent Whittemore spoke on the influence that his father has had on his love of the game growing up.
“He played a huge part, just growing up with a dad who’s a coach,” Trent said. “Fall was always special to my family. It was football season, it was the time of the year that we all anticipated.”
Trent explained how, whenever the family watched a game or talked about football, it was from a different perspective. Since Mark Whittemore was a play caller, discussions would vary largely from the viewpoint of a regular fan. He shared how his dad would break everything down for him and always explained how things work.
“Even from a young age, he liked to put the TV on mute,” Trent said. “He was like we don’t need announcers, we can watch the game for ourselves. That’s one of the things he did that I do to this day.”
Furthermore, Trent Whittemore shared how his father has inspired him and his brothers to go on and play college football.
“I think just his drive and how he motivates people to play hard, he instilled that in me and my brothers at a young age,” Trent said.
Luke, the eldest Whittemore brother, was recruited out of high school by Troy University as a receiver in the 2016 class. He shared how his father has inspired him in every aspect of his life.
“My dad had a huge impact on my life in every way,” Luke said. “Beyond just teaching me the fundamentals of football, he showed me how it could be so much more than that. His approach has always been one that prioritizes the impact he can have on the people that football brings his way. This influenced me to make the game more about others than it was about myself. That has resulted in relationships and lessons that I’ll always carry with me.”
Luke, Trent and Creed all played at least two sports growing up. In the end, the trio would all go on to play football at the college level.
“We all ended up sticking with football in college,” Trent said. “I think part of that is because it really does run in our family. We saw my dad do it, and then I saw my older brother do it. It just pushed me in that same direction… I think him being a coach and just being the personality that he is just drove all of us to eventually play college football.”
Creed, the second youngest Whittemore brother, ahead of Andrew, will be playing at Mississippi State in the fall. After an impressive senior season where he passed for 2,533 yards with 33 touchdowns and rushed for 1,170 yards with 16 more touchdowns, Creed led Buchholz to a second straight region title. Creed Whittemore was named the 2022 Florida Dairy Farmers Mr. Football, being honored as Florida’s top overall player. He spoke on the importance of family in his life, as well as how excited he is for his big brother to be playing at UCF.
“Family is the most important thing to me behind my relationship with God,” Creed Whittemore said. “I get just as excited to see my brothers score as when I score. So seeing Trent have this opportunity to play at a legacy school means a lot. I think he’s one of the best receivers in the Big 12 and he’s going to show that this year. He’s one of the hardest workers I know and he’s going to do great things for Knight Nation.”
Luke shared how being a family that was heavily involved in sports, the Whittemore boys were always competing against each other. He added that the way he and his brother grew up taught them how to support one another.
“Being a part of our family made me feel like any of my brother’s successes were mine as well,” Luke said.
As far as Trent’s transition to Knight Nation, he says everything has been smooth.
“It’s been really good,” Trent said. “The offseason is more of a bit of a relaxed time, so you get to spend a little bit more time just like getting to know guys and that sort of thing.”
Trent gave a shoutout to some of his first friends on the team, UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, who he said was a good first buddy that he got to know pretty quickly. Trent spoke highly of UCF tight end Alec Holler, while also sharing how welcoming the whole roster has been.
“The whole team has been very receptive, so a big shoutout to those guys, but really the whole team has been super friendly and super welcoming,” Trent said.
Additionally, another former Bobcat will be on the field this season with Trent Whittemore, UCF receiver Quan Lee.
“I see Quan all the time now, we work out together, throw together,” Trent said. “It’s great to have another Bobcat around, to be able to represent not only the Black & Gold as Knights but the Black & Gold as Bobcats. I got a lot of love for Quan.”
Prior to announcing his decision on Jan. 7, Trent shared how he was in between several different places the whole time he was in the portal.
“I just prayed about it a lot and talked about it with my family, and then kind of right before I made that announcement, that’s when I really decided,” Trent Whittemore said.
Additionally, Trent spoke of how Knight Nation is not only a place that means a lot to his family but how he sees it being a good fit for him football-wise as well.
“When you’re older and you’re in the portal you’re definitely looking for a good fit,” Trent Whittemore said. “It wasn’t just that UCF was where my dad had played. I think there were a lot of other factors too.”
Trent spoke about how he has had a good relationship with UCF head coach Gus Malzahn, and how his family has known him for some time. Malzahn, then with Auburn, was hopeful to recruit Trent when he was coming out of high school in 2019. Mahzahn, once at UCF, was also eager to recruit Creed and their cousin, Malachi Singleton.
“I’ve had a relationship with him for a long time and getting to play for him was something that really piqued my interest,” Trent said of Malzahn. “I think he’s a great coach,” he added.
Trent also shared his liking for UCF receivers coach Grant Heard, who he will be working with.
Additionally, among the Knights’ coaching staff is offensive coordinator Darin Hinshaw. The Whittemore-Hinshaw connection is officially returning to Knight Nation, as Hinshaw played as the quarterback at UCF in the early ’90s alongside Mark who played as a receiver.
Hinshaw was also active in recruiting Trent out of high school, as he was the OC at Kentucky at the time.
“I’ve known of him obviously my whole life,” Trent said. “He was one of my dad’s buddies and played with him at UCF, so it was really cool whenever he got hired to be the OC. He reached out right away, and we already had a relationship so that was really a blessing.”
Trent Whittemore complimented Hinshaw for how he runs a balanced system, gets everybody involved, and ensures that the entire offense is on the same page.
“I think if you look at his track record and the places he’s been and where he’s had the opportunity to call plays, they’ve been really successful,” Trent said. “He does a really good job of training the quarterbacks, which is his main focus. As well as just having everybody really knowledgeable of what’s going on and the scheme.”
Trent’s transition to Knight Nation has been working out well on the academic side as well. After he began pursuing a master’s degree in communication at UF, Trent Whittemore elected to pursue interdisciplinary studies at UCF. He plans to combine some of his communications work with some public administration classes, another interest of his. As far as his career aspirations, Trent says he’s open to a lot of different things. He is likely going to stay within the sports sector somehow. For now, he’s focused on playing for however long the game takes him, and then he’ll go from there.
Luke Whittemore has taken note of how well Trent is already fitting in with Knight Nation.
“I think UCF will be a perfect fit for Trent,” Luke said. “It’s a place where he feels at home, and I think he can bring a lot of value for them as they make the transition to the Big 12. The way he’s already started to get acclimated to the program makes me really excited for the splash that he’ll make this year.”
As Trent Whittemore steps foot on the field at FBC Mortgage Stadium this fall, he will walk into the next chapter of his football career and all the while suiting up in the two colors that the Whittemore family holds closest to their hearts.
“It’s a place that means a lot to my family, but at the same time I was wanting to go to a place that was a good football fit as well,” Trent said. “I think UCF is that.”