Whale[y] of a Day

NORMAN, Okla. -- All spring the talk's been about mid-semester incoming freshman Brandon Williams, but after the Spring Game, some of that attention has shifted to another guy in the backfield.

A guy who's a walk-on.

A guy who was only recruited by two schools, and non-Division I schools at that in Langston and Emporia State.

A guy who has always had a soft spot for the Crimson and Cream.

"Yeah, I got quite fond of OU," Whaley said. "We came up here a couple playoff games when I was in high school. [I] liked the stadium, liked the atmosphere. It was fun."

But the former Lawton MacArthur star never quite got the chance to come to OU when he was only recruited by those two much smaller football programs.

"I really felt that I could [play at OU]," Whaley said. "And, I mean, a lot of times many people are overlooked. Maybe I developed my skills while I was here. There's good training. There's a perfect staff and everything. Maybe I developed more while I was here. Maybe I didn't. I don't know. It's God's plan what happens."

Clearly, what has happened is Whaley has entered the fray in a running back by committee situation at one of the most prestigious football programs in the country.

"I feel like the position's wide open," Whaley said. "They're giving all of us plenty of opportunities, and we're all doing our job and doing the right thing to get out there."

Not only has he done the right thing this spring in order to get noticed, but he also apparently made the right choice in the first place when he decided to leave Langston to walk on at OU.

"Well, there was a couple of personal reasons, you know, money issues, too," Whaley said. "I ended up going back home for a semester, ended up taking a semester out of school and then decided to come back."

After he came back, per NCAA rules, Whaley was forced to sit out a season, therefore redshirting.

He admits there were times when he doubted the decision and how things could really turn out as a walk-on at a major football dynasty like OU.

"Plenty of times, I feel like at first you feel like, ‘Oh, I'm just a walk on guy. I'll be happy just to make the team,'" Whaley said. "Then, once you get into the system and get into the plays and the rotation, you feel like, ‘Okay, I am a player. I need to do the right job to start.'"

Whaley made that step Saturday when he exploded for a game-long 45-yard run, part of his game-high 65 yards on 10 carries.

Now, he really believes he's right in the thick of things in the depth chart for playing time.

"I do have that feeling," Whaley said. "I do have the chance to go out there and compete and maybe win the job. I guess the only thing you can do is do all your assignments, do the best you can and that's what I've been trying to do."

And it's paid off.

Heck, even head coach Bob Stoops admitted it in his postgame press conference.

"He's right there with those guys," Stoops said. "Even [dating back to] a year ago he's done well. He's a guy who is definitely in that competition."

One way or the other, Whaley's contributions can only work as a positive for the competition in this backfield.

Maybe, just maybe he'll see some playing time come fall.

If the Spring Game was any indication, he will.

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