Whaley moving #8216;back#8217; in spring practices

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

COLUMBUS — Tyler Whaley will compete for a starting job with the Ohio State Buckeyes, but not the job he expected.

The 6-foot-1, 270-pound Whaley has been called undersized physically, but not in terms of heart. The Buckeye coaching staff has always been impressed with his desire and effort. His work and effort earned him a scholarship prior to the 2006 season.

Whaley saw action in six games last season and was expected to battle for the job at center with redshirt sophomore Jim Cordle who is 6-4, 285.

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However, Whaley’s quickness and Ohio State’s lack of depth at the fullback position created an interesting twist this spring. Whaley has been getting his playing time at fullback.

Whaley will get a chance to prove himself at either or both positions when the Buckeyes hold their annual Scarlet/Gray spring game at Ohio Stadium on Saturday.

Senior Dionte Johnson (6-0, 234) is expected to take over the starting job and the backups going into the spring were senior Trever Robinson (6-0, 220) and junior Brandon Smith (6-3, 252) who also plays tight end.

“It kind of started back when I had my meeting with coach (Jim) Bollman. They another fullback and they talked about some other people and they got the idea I might be a fullback,” Whaley said.

After the first day of the winter condition, Bollman, the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator, told Whaley to do his workouts with the running backs.

Whaley said the move is fine with him.

“I just want to get out there and play. If playing fullback gives me a better opportunity it’s all right with me,” said Whaley who has had no work with the offensive line.

Whaley has spent the entire spring practices at fullback. He said it has caught others by surprise.

“After my first scrimmage that the first week and I was going downfield and the refs had to ask me if I was a lineman or a back because I was wearing No. 54,” said Whaley. “The next time we practiced I wore No. 42.”

Whaley said a good performance in Saturday’s Scarlet-Gray Game could earn him more playing time with his versatility.

“I think so far (the coaches) like what they see. In their eyes, I’ll always be there for emergencies (on the line). This way they can use me at center and at fullback,” said Whaley.

“I’m more of power blocking. I think they were surprised I could catch the ball. I like cracking somebody and catching the ball. I like it a lot.”

Whaley said a lot of people have asked him why he was never used as a running back before in his career.

“In the team concept, you do what it takes to win. In my eyes, I never thought about it.”

Whaley said that two other local players — Ironton’s Marcus Williams and Rock Hill’s K.C. Christian — have had good spring practices.

“Marcus Williams has been stepping up. He’s been getting a lot of reps with the second team. He’s be a good special teams player and he could be right in the mix,” Whaley said.

“K.C. Christian has had some good practices. He had 60 yards to lead the rushers. It was a breakout scrimmage for him. I think he’s surprised some people.”