Rated: Whalen is rated a three-star prospect by Scout.com. Although he’s projected to start at fullback, he is ranked the No.23 middle linebacker in the country and the No.4 MLB in the Midwest.
On Film: Jake's a kid we watched on his junior film and throughout this year and kept wondering how his offer list didn't line up. He plays very hard and runs well for a kid that's his size. He also shows the versatility to play either side of the ball. As a linebacker, he flows to the ball well and uses his athleticism to run plays down. On offense, he has all around skills as a fullback. He can carry it, he can catch it, and he obviously likes contact as a blocker. I think he's a good pickup. He's a kid that, because of his motor and work ethic, is a safe bet to contribute. – National Recruiting Analyst Allen Trieu
Recruiting Impact: Derek Watt is entering his senior season, so the Badgers’ depth at fullback after redshirt sophomore Austin Ramesh, who played in five games last season when Watt was hurt, is thin. UW typically transitions kids to the fullback role from linebacker (in Watt’s case) or running back (Ramesh), so taking a scholarship fullback is slightly rare for the Badgers. In this case, Whalen’s athleticism and ability was too much to pass up.
Now there is a slight chance he could end up as a linebacker for the Badgers, something that shouldn’t appear out of the question considering what has happened in this recruiting class. UW has officially lost Dominic Sheppard, who wasn’t really recruited by the new staff, and might lose Jordan Griffin. UW has taken steps to protect itself this fall (upgrading Zack Baun from a greyshirt, flipping Alec Ingold), but Whalen will get re-evaluated this fall and could find himself in the middle of UW’s defense.
Time will tell, but he’s a talented athlete who can handle whatever is thrown at him.
Quotable: ”“There is no other town in America like Madison. That is how I feel, so really that is where I felt most comfortable and can see myself spending four-to-five years of my career playing there. If something would happen in football, because injuries happen all the time, I could still see myself having fun and going to school there and finishing up my college career. I felt comfortable with the new staff and I really like them a lot.” – Whalen.
Final Thought: Gary Andersen didn’t see the value of taking on this middle-tier in-state prospects, choosing to focus on the top players in state and go elsewhere to fill his roster. Shame on him. After hearing how much these scholarship opportunities meant to Baun, Ingold and Whalen, the Badgers are getting players who are going to bust their tail to contribute to the program.