Senior wide receiver Jose Joaquin “JJ” Arcega-Whiteside is one of the many weapons on the undefeated Stanford football team this year. In their season opener against the San Diego State Aztecs, Arcega-Whiteside scored three touchdowns from 226 receiving yards. This performance was the third most receiving yards a Stanford player made in the team’s history.
As team captain this season, Arcega-Whiteside has scored at least two touchdowns in three out of four games so far. On September 4, he was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.
Arcega-Whiteside has an intriguing academic resume, majoring in international relations. Over the summer, Arcega-Whiteside interned for Dr. Condoleezza Rice. His favorite classes vary in topics.
“[I] took a jet engine class, told you how to build a jet engine and we saw a couple of them work,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “History of South Africa, the teacher was a phenomenal guy … Greek art history.”
In 2016, he earned a Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention and made five receiving touchdowns. His first score helped steal a win from UCLA in the final seconds of their matchup.
“It felt like a blur, I just got so locked in that next thing I know the game was over. Everybody kept telling me that I scored a touchdown,” Arcega-Whiteside said about the game. “I remember just being very detailed, very focused in everything I did and taking everything with confidence.”
The wide receiver is the offspring of two pro basketball players and was born in Zaragoza, Spain. At six years old, he moved to South Carolina. Arcega-Whiteside is multilingual and a multisport athlete as well as a member of the National Honor Society.
In 2014, he earned All-State honors for track and field, basketball and football. Arcega-Whiteside became the South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year that same year. Meeting former NFL player Steve Smith at a football camp made him decide to pursue football.
“[Smith] told me how to run routes,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “I try to play like Steve Smith, he’s the shortest guy on the field with the biggest heart, I definitely want to show that.”
Choosing football came with support and a smidgen of concern from his parents.
“When I decided to play football, at first they were a little worried,” Arecega-Whiteside said. “But when they saw that I really enjoyed playing football and I can be something with it, then we just picked up the ball and started running with it.”