Whaley's first-game success no surprise to teammates
Dominique Whaley’s sudden leap into the spotlight came as a surprise to just about everybody who doesn’t attend practice with the Sooners every day. However, to Whaley, his coaches and teammates, the way the junior running back dominated his first game with OU was no shock at all.
“Everyone thinks it’s insane that he just popped out of nowhere, but he had to sit out last year,” sophomore offensive lineman Gabe Ikard said. “We all knew he was a freak. You should have seen him running wild in our spring scrimmages and running over people. If you go look at the numbers he puts up, he’s probably the best athlete we have. We knew. It’s not like we were oblivious to his talent.”
Whaley has the skill set, the size and the athletic ability to have been a top recruit coming out of high school. However, growing up in a military family that moved around a lot hurt him when it came to recruiting. His military parents may be a big reason why Whaley is such a hard worker, though. Whaley said his parents always made sure he was taking care of business and had his priorities right.
That meant he had to be the best he could possibly be, both on and off the football field. In fact, Whaley had to make all A’s and B’s growing up or he was not even allowed to play the sports he loved.
“If we had anything lower than a B, our parents would pull us from a sport,” Whaley said. “They ran a tight ship at the house. Everything was, ‘Do it the right way, do it our way or don’t do it at all.’ And even though I’m out of the house, I still continue to follow their rules.”
Whaley said being a part of that “tight ship” made him the humble, hard-working person he is today. Before becoming a star on the football field in Norman, he was just a normal college student going to school and working a job to pay for his education. The one difference between him and a regular student, though, was Whaley is also a walk-on player who got physically beat down every day while trying to maintain A’s and B’s and make enough money to stay in Norman.
“He gets hit every play,” junior offensive linemen Ben Habern said. “He’s physically worn down, and then on top of that, school and holding down a job; it’s very impressive that he’s done that.”
As far as the current chapter of Whaley’s story goes, he feels it is just that — another chapter. The only surprise to him and his teammates is how surprised the rest of the country is that he emerged last Saturday.
“From what I’m hearing from everybody else, I guess it’s impressive,” Whaley said. “So, yeah, I guess I’d be surprised, too.”