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May 11, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas running game was a work in progress last season, with the Longhorns' staff turning to several players in an attempt to find a consistent threat out of the backfield.
The end result saw the Longhorns have sporadic but inconsistent success at running back, with Chris Ogbonnaya, Cody Johnson, Foswhitt Whittaker and Vondrell McGee all receiving limited touches.
Quarterback Colt McCoy actually led the team in rushing yards, and no Longhorns back amassed more than 375 rushing yards on the season.
But help could be on the way.
Highly touted prospect Chris Whaley, a Rivals100 member out of Madisonville, is set to head to Austin on June 8, and the Army All-American Game participant is ready to get started.
I'm very excited. I've been waiting on this day to come. I'm just very excited," Whaley said. "I'm not really nervous. I probably will be once I get there, but I've been playing football for years. Eventually you just get used to it.
"But I'll probably be a little nervous going to that first practice. I know I can do it. But that first practice I'll have to kind of get the feel of it."
The 6-foot-3 Whaley is currently weighing in at 235 pounds, a little heavier than the weight at which he was planning to report, but he feels good about the way his body is one month before he reports.
He's been working out with one of the coaches at the school, doing a lot of running, and he's hoping to come in ready for action. Making the jump from Class 3A ball to big-time college football will take some getting used to, but Whaley's ready for the challenge.
"With my size and speed, It shouldn't be too hard [to transition]. It's going to take a lot of work because everyone's on that same level," Whaley said. "I know it's a lot of hard work but I'm preparing for that now so it will be easier when I get there.
"I'm comfortable with [the 235 pounds] because I can still move. I still want to get it down, but it doesn't really matter. They say they'll knock some of it off of me when I get there, but they're not worried about it as long as I can still move."
Though they haven't talked in a few weeks, Whaley has kept in regular contact with Texas running backs coach Major Applewhite over the course of his recruitment. The two have developed a strong relationship, and Applewhite has told Whaley to come in ready to compete.
"I get along with all the coaches, but me and Coach Applewhite talk the most," Whaley said. "He's been on me from the start. The main thing he stresses is to come in in shape so they don't have to wait for me to get in shape. That way I can just worry about learning the playbook."
At the high school level, matching up against players who couldn't compete with him physically, things came fairly easily for Whaley. Moving up to the next level, he'll have to put in the extra work to separate himself from the other talented players on the field, but Whaley's ready to buckle down.
"I know I'm going to have to work really hard on picking up the blitz, getting the schemes down. The coaches told me that's the hardest part, so that that'll be one thing I'll have to work on," Whaley said. "I think I can really adjust to the work ethic they have there. If I have to work, I'll work. I know there will be times when I'll have to put in extra work, but I'm ready."