Game on for Nikita Whitlock

Posted Feb 3, 2016


When the Giants announced their official 53-man roster in September of last year, few players were as relieved as Nikita Whitlock.

“It was exciting,” Whitlock recalled. “The big surprise to me was that I was going to be a starter, and to be the only fullback on the roster. That was a big thing for me, it really blew my mind.”

An impressive training camp and preseason earned Whitlock the lone fullback spot, supplanting four-year veteran Henry Hynoski in the process. Over the course of the 2015 season, Whitlock became the team’s ‘Swiss Army knife’ for his hybrid-ability to play offense, defense and special teams.

“I’m willing to do it all,” Whitlock said. “I have all the confidence in the world in myself."

“He’s beautiful, isn’t he?” added defensive coordinator Steve Spagunolo during the season. “I’ll tell you what, when he goes in there, it’s a whole different challenge for an offensive lineman really.”

Now entering his first offseason with the Giants, Whitlock has two areas of focus – completing rehab on a minor knee injury that cost him the last two games of the season, and catching up on a different kind of game all together – PlayStation.

“I’m definitely getting into my PlayStation,” Whitlock said. “I’ll probably be going at it for a few weeks.”

Rehabbing an injury isn't a bad way to catch up on some video games, and the 24-year-old Whitlock is happy to get gaming.

“I’m a big Call of Duty Guy,” Whitlock said. “Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto are my main two games. I’ll dabble with some others too.”

The Wake Forest grad, who started 45 games at nose tackle for the Demon Deacons, isn’t the only gamer in the Whitlock household. His 5-year-old son, Nikita Nehemiah II, also enjoys some quality time playing video games with dad.

“My son is really into the Nintendo Wii,” Whitlock said. “So that’s a lot of Super Mario Bros and Zelda. It’ll be a good few weeks of gaming.”

When he’s not trying to best his son at Super Mario Bros., Whitlock has some travel plans lined up over the next few months. In between training at the Giants practice facility, Whitlock says he plans to bounce around between his hometown of Dallas, Texas, plus a week in Miami and Atlanta.

“I like to sprinkle in different areas so it doesn’t get redundant and boring,” Whitlock said.

Whitlock is also taking the opportunity this offseason to become a leader off the field. Just this week, he joined Up2Us Sports as an athlete ambassador. Up2Us Sports is a national organiation that helps mentor kids through sports. Prince Amukamara also serves as an athlete ambassador.

“I’m excited to share my experience as an NFL athlete, as well as serve as a voice to help promote how powerful coaches can improve the lives of children, as my coaches did for me," Whitlock said.

In between it all, Whitlock's primary ‘Call of Duty’ is to successfully build off his first full NFL season.

“No vacation plans for me,” Whitlock assured. “I want to get better, period. I want to see what I can do better and see what other fullbacks in the league did better. I want to get in the film room and just study.”

Video games and extra film study? That’s a lot of time in front of the tube.

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