Texas freshman running back Chris Whaley is definitely a rare talent. A big back with small back athleticism, Whaley was one of the state's most sought after players before he committed to Texas.
A Rivals100 member out of Madisonville, the 6-foot-3 Whaley towered over his teammates and opponents, and he used his unique combination of size, speed and vision to put up huge numbers over the course of his high school career.
A three-time all-state selection, Whaley rushed for 6,174 yards and 79 touchdowns on 684 carries over the course of his high school career. Despite those gaudy figures, some fans have continued to question whether or not he can be a running back at the collegiate level. Some figure he's too big to play the position, although Whaley's size has been nothing but a positive over the course of his career.
The last time he hit the field in official action, Whaley performed well at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and he's hoping to close out his high school career with another strong showing on Tuesday night at the THSCA All-Star Football Game.
"So far it's going good. It's really good. It's been a good experience, playing with the best guys in Texas," Whaley said after one of the South's practices. "That's always a good experience.
"It's nice to have one last high school game before you start college. When you're growing up, you don't ever think your high school career is going to end but it does."
Currently tipping the scales at 245 pounds, Whaley still feels comfortable carrying the rock, and he's still able to glide and make cuts that most backs smaller than him can only dream of. That being said, the talented runner does want to trim down over the course of the summer to maximize his athleticism.
"I want to get down to about 235. Between 230-235 range," Whaley said. "(Jeff) Mad Dog (Madden) always tells me that weight will come off eventually so he doesn't want me hurrying up and rushing into it."
Over the past two months, Whaley has been working out with the rest of the Longhorn team in summer drills, including regular conditioning work and some action in the team's 7-on-7 drills.
"It's going really well. The first few weeks were kind of tough. I've adjusted to it, now I'm just working hard trying to prove myself," Whaley said.
Most seem to believe that Whaley playing as a true freshman is a foregone conclusion, but the talented freshman said nothing has been indicated to him at this stage. Instead, the Texas coaches have told him to continue to work hard and they'll see how things develop once the team begins preseason practices.
"Right now, I'm just going to keep working hard," Whaley said. "Come fall camp, I'll keep pushing myself and eventually we'll find out what happens. They've just told me to keep working hard like I have been."