Devon Witherspoon's Origin Story: From 0-star recruit to top-5 draft pick
The unlikeliest top-5 pick, the likeliest first rounder to carry a huge chip on his shoulder into the NFL with the Seahawks: 6/7/2023
To look at college football recruiting rankings in 2018, you wouldn’t know that quarterbacks who faced Pine Forest High School that year were in for a test that they’ll probably be talking about to friends and random dudes at bars for the rest of their lives. We’ve all heard that “I played with this guy” or “I played against that guy” whether it be from uncles, dads, and drunks.
Sometimes all three of those guys can be the same one person!
But what if you played against both that guy and this guy…on the same team…in the same game…playing the same position? Because in the origin story I wrote about Kenny McIntosh, I mentioned that he was high school teammates with first round wide receiver Zay Flowers at NSU University in Florida.
Well, at that same time, on virtually the complete and exact opposite side of Florida, another set of high school teammates would later both reach the NFL. And they were both cornerbacks, they just weren’t expected to make it this far.
Martin Emerson was a three-star recruit out of Pine Forest who ended up going to Mississippi State and getting drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Opposite of him was an unranked player who didn’t get an offer from Illinois until the summer after his senior season, but high school coach Jason McDonald knew what he was seeing…
“When the recruiters would come in, they would want to see Martin, they would want to see Spoon,” McDonald said. “I’d tell them, ‘Martin’s a great player. But Spoon’s better. Hands down he’s better.’
This is how Devon Witherspoon went from a high school players with no stars to being the highest-drafted cornerback by the Seattle Seahawks since Shawn Springs in 1997.
Usually with these origin stories, I can start with how they were dominant in peewee and earned nickname like Kenny “The Blueprint” McIntosh or how Jaxon Smith-Njigba was already one of the most feared players in Texas high schools by his sophomore season. Being the belle of the recruiting ball was the same story for Derick Hall, Zach Charbonnet, and even Clint Hurtt back in the ‘90s. But not so with Seattle’s highest draft pick since Aaron Curry in 2009.
As Witherspoon decided to focus on basketball when he got to high school, didn’t step back on the football field until his junior year, and he didn’t get an official scholarship offer from a Division-I program until after he had enrolled at a junior college while awaiting his SAT results. So Witherspoon’s origin story doesn’t have much to say until he was a junior in high school…and then he had a lot to say.
Seaside Joe is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
This is a bonus post for Regular Joes, so be sure to subscribe for as little as $5 per month or $55 per year to read this and many more additional Seahawks stories. There will be an additional Super Joes founding members bonus article each month.
This post is also “too long for e-mail” because it is such a deep dive, so click the Seaside Joe banner to not miss the whole article!