It was August 1. Auburn had just completed its first day of practice and senior safety Jermaine Whitehead was one of the Auburn players made available to the media. After about four minutes of taking questions on a range of topics, he just laid it out on the line.

“I want to make plays that will make me a draftable player,” Whitehead told “I definately need to get my hands on the ball a lot more; get a lot of takeaways. I got too many snaps to not have (interceptions). I definately want to get those numbers up.”

If there was a preconceived notion that Whitehead is not a flashy player who goes about his job quietly, that might have changed Saturday.

Whitehead’s interception against Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen and subsequent 33-yard return for a touchdown was the turning point in Auburn’s 45-21 victory.

A crushing blow delivered by Robenson Therezie while Allen was throwing was all it took. Whitehead made the catch and defensive tackle Montravius Adams threw a key block that enabled the senior to easily find the end zone.

Video of Whitehead interception (from 1:45 to 2:04)

“I was able to make a play on the ball,” said Whitehead. “I had some good pressure from the up-front guys. The ball was supposed to go deep but then I was able to make a play on it.”

The pick-six was Whitehead’s second of his career. His first came in 2011 as a true freshman against Florida Atlantic. It, too, turned out to be the turning point in Auburn’s 30-14 win against the Owls. Clinging to a slim 10-6 halftime lead, Whitehead picked off quarterback Graham Wilbert three plays into the third quarter. Whitehead returned it 25 yards to paydirt, the first of four consecutive scoring possessions for Auburn en route to their 30-14 victory. It was the first Auburn interception for a touchdown by a true freshman since Brad Ware did it against Alabama in 1996.

For Whitehead, his fourth career interception comes in his 40th game played for the Tigers. Despite starting 11 games in 2012, he went the entire season without an interception. Last season he was on the field for almost every defensive snap for the Tigers and had two picks, two behind team leader Robenson Therezie.

Perhaps draft guru Mel Kiper will now consider updating his draft board. As pointed out during fall camp, Kiper didn’t have Whitehead listed among the top 11 safeties for the 2015 NFL Draft. CBS Sports, however, ranked Whitehead fifth among the free safeties available and a projected fourth-round pick.