Auburn defensive back Jermaine Whitehead has been reinstated to the team after a four-game suspension, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be starting Saturday, when the Tigers play host to South Carolina. Whitehead hasn't been allowed to practice for a month, and Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is taking a wait-and-see approach before deciding when he might be ready to play.
"I don't know exactly how long that's going to take," Malzahn said, according to al.com. "I don't have a timetable on it, but we'll see how that goes. As far as his reinstatement, what he did and all that, that's between me and him."
Three weeks into the season, Malzahn suspended Whitehead for disciplinary reasons reportedly related to a verbal altercation Whitehead had with an Auburn assistant coach.
Whitehead is an experienced safety who started for the Tigers' SEC championship team last year, but the rust that comes with a month off the practice field could result in a fifth straight game on the bench Saturday. Whitehead had two interceptions in Auburn's first three games, however, and his presence in the Auburn secondary will be a significant boost once he is ready to play at his best.
While Malzahn refused to discuss the reason for Whitehead's suspension, Whitehead will have to answer for it in February if he receives an invitation to the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Joshua Holsey has filled in well in at safety in Whitehead's absence.