AUBURN, Ala. — Jermaine Whitehead broke his silence Saturday night.
Following Auburn's 31-7 victory over Samford, the senior safety was made available to media members for the first time in nearly three months. Prior to Saturday, his last interview also came in a postgame setting, as he appeared after Auburn's season-opening win over Arkansas.
As one would expect, Whitehead wasn't ready to give any details about the events that led to his four-game suspension. It reportedly stemmed from a verbal altercation with an assistant coach before the team went on the road to face Kansas State on Sept. 18.
"I don't really know anything about that," Whitehead said. "I know the thing that I did. Me and Coach (Gus Malzahn) know and people on the team have an idea. I paid for whatever was done."
At the time of his suspension, Whitehead had a team-high two interceptions and was fourth in tackles (12).
"It hurt me that I hurt my team," he said. "I put them in a position to play in a lot of big games without me. I'm just glad I got past all the adversity and now we're able to move forward."
Being held out of the lineup for four games was unfamiliar territory for Whitehead. Before his suspension, he had started 28 consecutive games.
Once he was reinstated last month, Whitehead was still not permitted to practice with the defense. Instead, he was part of the kickoff return team.
He's stayed there the past four games.
"I've always been on the depth chart since my freshman year and I got the chance to come back," he said. "I swore to Coach I would do anything to help this team. I've been there ever since. I think it's been an asset to my team.”
He finally returned to free safety earlier this month, as he was in the lineup when Auburn's first-team defense took the field against Georgia.
Now that he's back, Whitehead didn't forget to thank those who stood by him during his suspension and subsequent reinstatement.
“It’s really a credit to my teammates," Whitehead said. "They did a lot to console me and make sure I wasn't feeling down. They welcomed me back with open arms and they were more glad to have me probably than I was to be out there.”