Arkansas landed a commitment from one of its most coveted targets on Saturday when Beaumont, Texas, Central tailback Devwah Whaley publicly pledged to the Razorbacks.
Whaley (6-0, 208), a four-star prospect who rushed for 1,701 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior, did so on national television at the beginning of Saturday’s Under Armour All-American game on ESPN.
“I would like to thank God, my parents, my friends, everyone who supported me during this process,” Whaley said during the announcement. “Now it is time to finish it. So without further ado, I will be furthering my degree and playing football at the University of Arkansas.”
He chose Arkansas over Texas, Georgia - where he had earlier committed, Alabama, Texas A&M, Oklahoma - and a host of other elite schools.
Whaley acknowledged that he had privately committed to the Razorbacks during a home visit with Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, running back coach Jamel Singleton and chief recruiter Clay Jennings back on Dec. 13.
“I felt like it was the best place for me,” Whaley said during his announcement. “It was the best fit all-around with a great coaching staff. That’s the place for me to earn my degree and get to the next level.”
Whaley was the game’s leading rusher with 12 carries for 49 yards and also had a catch for 4 yards as his Team Highlight beat Team Armour 27-0.
“I just got that feeling that it was the best for me all-around,” Whaley said after the game. “Coach B is a great coach and they have a great coaching staff and the environment is just great.
“I just stayed up praying every night and asked God to make it more clear and he did,” Whaley said. “That is where he wants me to be.”
“Just the whole atmosphere and the fans are great, everybody is nice and it is just the feeling,” Whaley said. “It is one of the top campuses in the SEC and country.”
Whaley has rushed for over 2,500 yards the past two seasons and done so inside and outside the tackles.
“I am a power runner with speed and I can make people miss,” Whaley said. “I am just an all-around back.”
He noted that would be doing some recruiting for Arkansas now, beginning with Metairie, La., Archbishop Rummel cornerback and fellow Under Armour All-American Kristian Fulton.
They were joined at the game by current Arkansas signee McTelvin Agim, a five-star defensive end from Hope.
“We are going to try and get some other guys,” Whaley said. “We have got one more guy that we are trying to get out here, Kristian Fulton, the cornerback.”
Whaley may keep an official visit to Texas he has scheduled for Jan. 15-17.
“Maybe Texas and I am not sure what else,” Whaley said.
He is ranked as the third-best tailback in the country and a Top 50 player for ESPN and a four-star prospect per Scout.com.
Whaley had committed to Georgia on Thanksgiving Day, but de-committed when Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt was let go.
It got a torrent of criticism on Twitter when he did so.
"It made me realize what kind of people there are out in the world and the type of fans they (Georgia) had," Whaley told the Beaumnt Enterprise. ”They weren't who I thought they would be.”
Whaley stressed that he has to do what is best for him.
"When it comes down to it, it’s my decision and mine alone,” Whaley said.
Scout .com recruiting analyst Greg Powers summed up the strengths of Whaley’s game.
"Whaley is a talented running back who is a very impressive athlete," Powers said. "Watching him run, he has the fluidity of a defensive back in how he jumps in and out of his cuts and is able to make defenders miss in tight spaces.
“Some schools early on were even recruiting him as a defensive back. Has a good build with upper and lower body strength. He does have that great hip/feet combo, but he is tough between the tackles and runs with very good power."
ESPN’s Tom Luginbill is also a big fan and noted that the opportunity for Whaley to step right in at Arkansas is a big one.
“Depending on what Alex Collins decides to do and given the injuries Arkansas had in the backfield this past fall, this move could not come at a better time for the Hogs,” Luginbill said. “This is a smart move by both parties as there is a nice marriage between scheme, identity and skill-set all wrapped into one.
“Arkansas wants power, speed and elusiveness in the downhill game and not just three yards and a cloud of dust. Whaley can give them that look.”
He also sees a great combination of size and speed in Whaley.
“Tall, athletically-built runner with a great blend of size, strength and speed at this stage,” Luginbill said. “Still a bit narrow in his base and has plenty of room for continued physical development. Smooth accelerator. Reaches top speed within just a few steps.
“Explosive athlete who finds a seam and is quick to burst through and outrun closing angles. Has a second gear to break away for long runs and overall top-end speed is at a high level given his size. Runs a bit high but will lower the pads in traffic and get the tough yards when needed.”