Javin Whatley’s skills with the rock the last four seasons have kept the Rockmart Yellow Jackets offense among the most lethal in Northwest Georgia.

Throwing for 959 yards, rushing for 1,365 and recording a combined 27 touchdowns during his final season, Whatley is the 2020 Rome News-Tribune All-Area Offensive Player of the Year.

He is one of several Polk County athletes named to the Rome News-Tribune 2020 All-Area Football Team, announced by the publication over the weekend.

Whatley is a dual-threat quarterback whose athletic ability shines bright in black and gold. His latter two seasons of signal calling contributed to Rockmart’s back-to-back Georgia High School Association second-round playoff appearances, once in Class AA and this past year in Class AAA.

Whatley also has shown his ability to compete against higher classification schools in Georgia. In Rockmart’s season opener at Rome last September, the senior under center accounted for 219 total yards of offense.

“I think he’s matured as a player,” Yellow Jackets coach Biff Parson said in a phone interview. “He’s obviously very gifted and talented as a skilled football player. We’ve seen that ever since he was in middle school.”

Whatley’s varsity career in a Yellow Jacket uniform saw him play many positions on the field, ratcheting up 3,241 rushing yards and 2,201 passing yards.

“I remember going to practice every day and having a workout. Everybody would be so happy to go to practice and we all love to get better and compete with each other,” Whatley said. “I’m going to just go to college and do the same, try to compete in everything I do.”

Speaking of college, Whatley signed with the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga on a football scholarship and held a signing ceremony last week at the high school with friends, family and teammates.

“I felt like I could fit in there,” Whatley said. “They told me how they would use my skills and it is exactly like how Rockmart used me so I just felt like it was the best fit. I can’t wait to get started. I like competition.”

Parson echoed his outgoing senior quarterback, stating Whatley’s love of competition is what makes him such a dangerous athlete on the football field.

“He can do so many things,” Parson said. “He can run. He’s a 4.40 (40-yard dash) kid at his best. He can throw it flat footed 60 yards. He’s a man of many talents, there’s no doubt about that.”

When looking back on his time at Rockmart, Whatley said he will remember how much the community cares about football and the relationships created between the players and coaching staff.

“I’ll always remember my last game of my senior year and my first game of my senior year,” Whatley said. “The first game we took a loss to Rome and it made us push to be better. Last game, we went to three overtimes with Cedar Grove and those were the only two losses of my senior season and it felt like it made the team better facing adversity.”

Parson said, over his five years at Rockmart, he’s developed a close player-coach relationship with Whatley.

“Just the maturity of Javin and what he’s overcome so far in his life. It’s not even football related; it’s just watching him grow as a human and seeing him become a great, strong-willed young man,” Parson said. “As coaches, there’s only a few times in your career you’ll be able to coach such great talent and Javin is in that category. Javin has done a lot of great for this program. We’re going to miss him greatly.”

Parson said he is elated for Whatley’s next journey in Chattanooga.

“(UT-Chattanooga) went after Javin extremely hard and I have to give credit to those guys of loving Javin and being very consistent on a daily basis and staying in communication with Javin,” Parson said. “We can’t wait to see what he does his next 4-5 years at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. I know he’s in good hands up there.”

While Whatley is currently competing full time with Rockmart’s boys basketball team, he is excited for what his future holds at UT-Chattanooga. Whatley said he aspires to compete on the highest stage of football one day, the National Football League.

“To get there, I feel like I need to work hard, stay in school and stick to the grind.”

Also named to the RN-T All-Area First Team Offense is Cedartown senior offensive lineman Jacob Rush.

First Team Defense members include Rockmart defensive linemen Travis Brown and Sherman Davis, as well as Cedartown’s CJ Washington and Jayden Johnson, who were recognized for their contributions on both sides of the ball.

Second Team Offense selections are Cedartown’s Harlem Diamond and Jaylon Stephenson, as well as Rockmart’s Dennis Sims, three underclassmen who are expected to get a bigger load of responsibilities in the fall.

Polk County football players named to the Second Team Defense were Cedartown’s Jai Barnes and Eli Barrow, and Rockmart’s Daquan Banks. Cedartown’s Jeremiah Johnson and Demarieo Sims, and Rockmart’s Dedric Gibson were named honorable mentions.

Polk Standard Journal Editor Jeremy Stewart contributed to this report.

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