"It's not just on the quarterback," Whitaker said. "It's on us (the lineman) too, to do our jobs to make us successful. We've been successful with our offense based how we've had that dual-threat, both running and passing."
Millikin finished sixth in the CCIW, closing with a 2-5 conference record that could have easily been 4-3. The Big Blue fell by a single point at Illinois Wesleyan (34-33) and came up short by a field goal against Elmhurst (45-42), an NCAA playoff team that lost to eventual national runner-up St. Thomas in the second round.
"Our record wasn't what it was supposed to be, but if you look at a couple of those games, if we make a play here or there, it's a completely different outcome," Whitaker said. "We were a lot more competitive. I'm looking forward to (this) year."
Whitaker is currently living in his off-campus house in Decatur, using the Millikin facilities to prepare for perhaps his toughest test yet. With a first-year starter under center, Whitaker and three other returning starters on the offensive line will likely be the key component to the Big Blue's performance in 2013.
"I think our offensive success is going to be based on how our o-line performs," he said. "Especially since we have four returners. Now that everybody knows what it takes, I think a lot of our success will fall on the line."
And that's just fine with Etherton. On top of his seasoned experience, Whitaker also boasts plenty of talent.
"He's very agile for a bigger kid," Etherton said. "He moves well, he gets off the ball, does a great job with his assignments. He should be one of the top offensive lineman in our conference."