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Cottonwood Heights Journal

From Brighton to the Super Bowl: catching up with Chiefs coach and BHS grad

Mar 07, 2023 03:39PM ● By Jerry Christensen

Alex Whittingham, a class of 2010 Brighton High alumnus, is the defensive quality control coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo courtesy Alex Whittingham)

While millions of viewers tuned into Super Bowl LVII for the action on the field and for entertaining ads, Brighton High School had another rooting interest—Alex Whittingham.

Whittingham, a class of 2010 Brighton High alumnus, is the defensive quality control coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. This is his fifth season on the staff of Chiefs coach Andy Reid and his second Super Bowl win. If his name sounds familiar, yes, Whittingham is a former University of Utah football player and a son of Ute head coach Kyle Whittingham.

With permission from Jeff Haney, PR at Canyons School District and Canyons District administrator and former Brighton High principal Charisse Hilton, we reprint some of Whittingham's thoughts on three Super Bowl appearances. 

What is your favorite memory of Brighton High?

Whittingham: Nothing can compare to Friday Nights in The Jungle. The brotherhood that was built on those football teams is something I’ve carried with me and cherish. Also, the faculty. Of course, I appreciate all my teachers, coaches and counselors (and principal!). Just hanging out in the halls and senior ramp in between classes is when some of the funniest times were had. Have to mention the school dances! Those were always so fun and I loved doing all the activities with everybody. Lastly, my man Knute Rockne. Great coach, even better person.

What would you tell your coaches and teachers now? Is there anyone at Brighton who made an impact on your life you’d like to mention on the District website?

Whittingham: Thank you. Thank you so, so much. Thank you for putting up with me because I know I was probably a handful back then. Thank you for your time and effort you put into educating us students and giving us as great of a high school experience as possible. I may not remember every lesson that was taught or every book that we read, but I do remember how my teachers made me feel. I felt respected, heard, and understood by so many teachers, and I will always be grateful for that. It’s impossible for me to name names because I will inevitably forget to mention one that deserves to be mentioned. Just know that if you had me as a student, I appreciate you. 

What has made you more nervous: playing high school football in front of friends and hometown fans or being at the Super Bowl?

Whittingham: Now that is a tough one! They both have their own unique kind of nervousness. Playing at Brighton, I wanted to make the fans proud, my parents proud, and my teammates and coaches proud. Coaching in the Super Bowl might have the slight edge here. However, in both cases, once the game starts and the ball is kicked, most nerves and anxiety go out of the window. That’s one of the beautiful things about football. It’s easy to get lost in (it) once the game starts, because it all comes at you so fast.

What advice would you give high school players who dream of playing college football and/or in the NFL? 

Whittingham: To make the first step from high school to college, the first thing to do is be a great student. Nothing can get you eliminated from recruiting consideration faster than bad grades. Once you have that, you need to become a complete student of the game. Study it, watch it, devour everything you can about it. Develop your relationship with your coaches; pick their brains about why you guys are running the plays you are running. Study your defensive or offensive scheme, and know everything there is to know about it. Not just your position but the 10 other positions around you, too. Then, of course, you need to develop your physical attributes. Take your diet seriously, follow your team’s training regimen, and attack everything in the weight room like you would attack it on the field. Get your rest and treat your body the right way. All of these tips would apply to both making the jump to college and also making the jump to the NFL. Know that in the evaluation process, everything you do is being looked at. Not just your ability and your knowledge, but your character, too.