Though Whitmer currently lives in Downers Grove, Ill., a suburb 20 miles west of Chicago, he is no typical born-and-bred Midwesterner. As he moved from Georgia after his freshman year, for his dad's job, Whitmer sees himself as much a product of the South as anywhere else. Perhaps that explains why the Illini, despite being Whitmer's first offer and the school far and away closest to Downer's Grove, currently rank third on a list of three.
"I definitely want to play in the Pac-10 and I'm interested in the SEC as well, being a Southern kid," he said. "But I'm really interested in the Pac-10. That's why Stanford and Arizona are my two top choices."
Though Whitmer hasn't taken any official visits, he has unofficially trekked to both Stanford and Arizona, visiting the Cardinal's Junior Day as a sophomore, and taking in "a few visits" and a camp in Arizona.
He's not through though. Indeed, Whitmer liked what he saw on both campuses enough that he's planning a return trip to Palo Alto and Tuscon in a matter of days.
"On my spring break next week, I'm going to Ohio State for the Scout.com 7-on-7," he said. "Then I'm spending two days at Arizona and Stanford. I'll come home on the 3rd [of April] and take my ACT on the 4th, on that Saturday. That's my spring break."
As Whitmer's an Illinois native, it's the ACT, not the SAT, that will bear the wrath of his No. 2 pencil in one week's time. While Whitmer (and Cardinal fans) are hoping he's as accurate on a Scantron as he is on the field, the quarterback has a specific target in mind, just like in football.
"I'm planning on getting a 24 to a 28, depending on how I'm feeling that day," he reports. "I don't know how good of a test taker I am, but I've taken a class and think I'm well-prepared."
Stanford admissions requires its athletes to sport higher academic credentials than any other Division I-A school, so Cardinal fans will be pleased to hear of Whitmer's success – and newfound motivation -- in the classroom.
"I'm doing pretty well in school," he said. "I really kicked it up a notch since I got the offer from Stanford. I have a 3.5 core GPA and about a 3.8 overall this semester. I have a 3.6 overall and 3.4 core [cumulative]."
Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh's timing in contacting Whitmer took "Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind" to a new level. Not content with having finalized a top-20 class mere months removed from a 5-7 season on National Signing Day, Harbaugh pressed his luck by reaching out to Whitmer that very day. Suffice it to say, the gambit worked.
"I actually got an email from Coach Harbaugh on 2009 National Signing Day," Whitmer reports. "He said they were really interested and liked me on tape and to give him a call, and so I called him on my high school coach's phone. He said they were going to offer me a scholarship, and since then, we've talked maybe once every couple of weeks. I've had some good conversations with him, not just about football, but about life. He's real down to earth and fun to talk to."
Whitmer adds that the Card were second to Illinois to offer, with the Wildcats' offer coming a few weeks later. He says, of Stanford's coaches, he talks mainly with Coach Harbaugh, but also some with his region's recruiter, tight ends coach Tim Drevno. Drevno and Harbaugh appear to be doing their jobs well, because Whitmer positively gushes when asked about the Cardinal.
"Stanford pretty much has it all right now," he says. "Academically, I like the Pac-10, the campus is unbelievable and the weather, you can't compete. Coach Harbaugh is a great guy and a proven quarterback coach, so I just have to see how the visits go and make sure I make right decision."
Whitmer knows precisely what he hopes to see on those visits.
"Really, the main thing is getting out and seeing how I bond with the players there, seeing if those kids have the same characteristics, belief, will to win and all that, and seeing how coaches treat me while I'm down there," he said. "I want to see a practice and life down there. I want to see the competition and say could I compete with that kid, or is he pretty good, or should I go somewhere else? Competition's not the main factor, but I'll be looking at it."
Soon after his West Coast trip and ACT, Whitmer hopes to take another big step in the journey toward starting college life: making a verbal commitment.
"Hopefully after this visit is over, after spring break, I'll sit down with my family and see if we can't start making my final decision," he said. "I want to get it done ASAP, to get it out of the way for senior year. But I want to make sure I make the right decision, and don't second-guess and decommit later in the year."
One event that could cause Whitmer to think again about a potential commitment would be an offer from another school, especially from the SEC. While Whitmer's careful to stress that the Card and Wildcats sit squarely in the driver's seat, his ears are still open.
"Even with more other offers, I went in to this process saying Arizona and Stanford were the ones I really wanted," he said. Those are my top offers, and maybe an SEC offer if anybody's interest comes through. But right now, Arizona and Stanford are at the top.
"I don't want people to think it's just Arizona and Stanford though. They're above a lot of schools, but I'm definitely open to whomever. If people want to offer, I'm clearly open."
Along with the possibility of another school swooping in at the eleventh hour, another disconcerting thought to Stanford fans could be Whitmer's comments on competition, given highly-touted redshirt freshman quarterback Andrew Luck. However, when questioned further on the issue, Whitmer made sure to clarify that he embraces a challenge, and hopes to improve by scrimmaging against top-notch quarterbacks.
"How I feel is that if I'm going to play in college, I have to compete all the time," he said. "That's just how it is. One, it makes you better, and two, it brings out the best in you. If you go to a school that doesn't have any quarterbacks, then you're not going to be any good, you're not going to be a leader and you're not going to be happy. I definitely think competition brings the best out of you."
While Whitmer's relative lack of size (he's listed at 6-1, 190) and elite arm strength could hurt him at the college level, his mobility, accuracy and decision-making ability were impressive enough to warrant his offers from three BCS schools as a junior.
Needless to say, given that an offered recruit who says "Stanford pretty much has it all," is visiting the Card in a week and hopes to decide soon thereafter, there's a significant chance Stanford fans could be hearing much more from Chandler Whitmer for years to come. Ultimately, though, whether it's Stanford, Arizona, a pause or another school altogether, The Bootleg will bring you all the latest on Chandler Whitmer. Be sure to stay tuned!
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