That honor came during mid-July. Whaley, who works in the stadium during the summer, was taking members of his family for a tour when he took his girlfriend of a year and a half, Brittany Benjamin, to the new scarlet block "O" at midfield.
"I wanted to get engaged so I took my girlfriend to the 50-yard-line," Whaley recounted with a smile. "I dropped to a knee and asked her right there in the middle."
Benjamin's answer, of course, was yes. Thus, the two became the first to become engaged at midfield of the artificial turf installed this spring.
"She cried a little bit," Whaley said when asked if Benjamin was excited. "She was trembling, shaking a little bit."
It'll be Whaley's job to keep himself from trembling or shaking should he get the ball in his hands in 2007. The Ironton, Ohio, native came to OSU in 2003 as a walk-on offensive lineman and worked his way up the depth chart to the back-up center spot last year as a junior.
Whaley played in six games (16 minutes) with the reserve line. He was the man snapping the ball when Ohio State went on a 5-play, 50-yard drive that ended in touchdown to take a 7-0 lead against Texas during a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in September.
So it would make sense if "Tank," as he is known on the team, would want to stay at the position that brought him such success in 2006, especially when he would almost certainly would have been in the two-deep. However, the coaches asked the senior who received a scholarship before the 2006 season to move to fullback to shore up depth issues there. He entered the fall as the third fullback behind senior Dionte Johnson and fellow former walk-on Trever Robinson, but don't expect Whaley to complain, especially if a ball or two goes his way.
"If being in the backfield is the best way for me to get out there, then I'm all for it," Whaley said. "I'm a lineman turned fullback, so yeah, I have to love getting a chance to maybe get the ball or make some key blocks. Getting the chance to catch a couple passes or something here and there is a dream come true for an offensive lineman that never had a chance to touch the ball."
No Ohio State fullback had a carry a season ago, but Stan White Jr. did haul in eight passes. One report out of spring practice had Whaley, who has slimmed to 265 pounds from the 280 at which he finished 2006, showing deft feet to evade Tyler Moeller in the open field during one scrimmage. Whaley wouldn't deny he has the ability to be light on his feet.
"I think I can maybe move for a decent-sized guy," he said. "I work on it a lot. I've lost 15 pounds since the bowl game, which makes me feel a lot better, a lot quicker, so maybe a feel a little bit quicker on my feet."
Even with some moves, Whaley is more than likely to run over an opposing player than go through them. After all, he does have the nickname of Tank to live up to, a nickname he received when he was still a kid back in Ironton.
"I was always kind of a short, stocky guy," Whaley said. "It caught on up here with some of the guys. I'm still that short, stocky guy so it just kind of stuck with me. What better to be than a tank? I love it. You can't beat Tank, especially in football, running over people. Nothing gets in the way of a tank."
In addition to having the physical skills for the position, Whaley said he's picked up the schemes since his move to the position during spring. He's done it so well that he's impressed Johnson, the seasoned veteran of the fullbacks, and position coach Dick Tressel, who said he would not hesitate to insert either Robinson or Whaley into games come Sept. 1.
"Tank picked up the schemes faster than I did in my first three years," Johnson said. "He's a very smart guy."
Said Whaley, "Just being a center, I did know some of the terminology already, so it was a bit easier for me to pick up on some things, but I had still had to learn some new techniques and some new terminology. I think it's coming along good."