Whaley preparing for training camp

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBUS — It’s easy to imagine Tyler Whaley listening to Alan Jackson singing a verse of the song “It’s Five O’clock Somewhere.”

And it’s easy to imagine after hearing the verse that Whaley thought to himself, “Hey, he’s talking about me.”

The verse goes:

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“I ain’t had a day off in over a year

My Jamaican vacation’s gonna start right here.

If the phone’s for me

You can tell ’em I just sailed away.”

Now instead of Jamaica the trip was with some friends to Cumberland, Ky. And it was a well-deserved break in his work routine.

“I got myself a little vacation before this little camp thing,” Whaley said with a chuckle, referring to the Cincinnati Bengals’ training camp that gets under way on Sunday.

“I haven’t stopped working out. It’s all I’ve been doing since before last (football) season. I’ve been working out 24-seven.”

The 6-foot, 252-pound Whaley signed a free agent contract with the Bengals after a solid season last year sharing the fullback duties for Ohio State.

The former walk-on who earned a scholarship before his junior season was shifted from center last season to fullback and prove to be a punishing blocker. He caught the eye of the Bengal scouts at the Buckeyes’ Senior Pro Day and has a Cincinnati official on the phone offering him a contract just as the April NFL draft ended.

He has already gone through a rookie/free agent mini-camp, but he knows the preseason camp will be a lot harder and, of course, more competitive.

“I’m feeling every emotion. I’m a week away from reporting. I’m thinking back to how it was before reporting to Ohio State. I think it’s the same. You just go out there and hit, but still you don’t know what to expect,” said Whaley.

Work ethic has never been a problem for Whaley dating back to his All-Ohio days at Ironton.

“I’m probably in the best shape I’ve ever been in. They want me at 252, so this is the lightest I’ve been since my sophomore or junior year of high school,” said Whaley.

“When lose weight, you feel you lose some strength. But I don’t think I’ve lost anything.”

Working out at the Woody Hayes Center on the Ohio State campus, Whaley is taking advantage of former Ohio State players who are currently playing in the NFL.

“The players told me what to expect and what preseason is like and what preseason games are like,” said Whaley. “They’ve told me I’ll be doing every special team and I’ll have the pressure of getting cut. They said to just have confidence and every time you get a chance, go for it.”

Whaley will be trying to earn a spot behind currently occupied by veteran Jeremy Johnson. He will also be against fellow rookie Bradley Glatthaar and veteran Daniel Coats.

“Everybody is good, but I think I have a great opportunity in front of me. I’ve said all along I’ve got nothing to lose. It’s an opportunity, but once you develop a love and passion for a sport, it’s hard to give it up,” said Whaley.

Not only is Whaley motivated by his love and passion, but also by the support of the Ironton community.

“People are excited and that makes me more excited. It’s nice to know you have people rooting for you,” said Whaley.