ATHENS, Ga. — It took more than two months. But Saturday night, Jermaine Whitehead was back in Auburn's starting lineup.
The senior's last start prior to Saturday came Sept. 6, when Auburn hosted San Jose State. Whitehead finished with nine tackles. That tied for most on the team along with linebacker Cassanova McKinzy.
It marked the the 30th start of Whitehead's Auburn career. He was in the lineup every game for more than two years, beginning with the season opener in 2012 and ending with the San Jose State contest two months ago, a 28-game streak.
But the streak was snapped after he was indefinitely suspended before Auburn traveled to Kansas to take on Kansas State on Sept. 18. The Tigers never disclosed what led to his suspension, though Auburn Undercover reported Whitehead got into a verbal altercation with an assistant coach.
He was gone for more than a month, not permitted to even attend practice with the team. But in the week leading into the South Carolina game, coach Gus Malzahn reinstated Whitehead. For two games, he saw the field on special teams only, helping out on the Tigers' kickoff return team.
He finally returned to the defense last week against Texas A&M, making a tackle on his first play. In the third quarter, he picked off Aggie quarterback Kyle Allen.
With three interceptions this season, he trails only Jonathan Jones among Auburn defenders.