The most significant challenge Prior Lake's Zach Whaley faced during the recruiting process had little to do with his on the field performance. On the field, the lineman was getting interest from school's as high up the Division I ladder…
The most significant challenge Prior Lake's Zach Whaley faced during the recruiting process had little to do with his on the field performance. On the field, the lineman was getting interest from school's as high up the Division I ladder as the Big Ten. The challenge for Whaley was overcoming his slow start in the classroom.
“In 9th and 10th grade I didn't put in much effort (in the classroom). I didn't really study,” Whaley admitted. “I was in deep and in a bad situation with my grades.”
At his first junior day the coaches gave him a dose of reality – on the field, coaches liked him, but not in the classroom.
“Back in February (of his junior year) I was at the South Dakota State junior day,” Whaley recalled. “They said ‘Zach, you are not even close to eligible'. That disappointed me and was mad at myself, so when I got back the next week, I really put in the effort in the classroom. Once I had a chance to play DI football I knew I had to turn it up.”
Not yet eligible during the early signing period – many DI schools stopped recruiting Whaley. Two schools kept the faith in the senior.
“Stephen F. Austin and Kent State stayed with me. When I became eligible, Kent State offered me right away.”
With offers from both, ultimately Whaley would pick Kent State.
“I loved that they had a whole new coaching staff,” Whaley – who was NFN's 37th ranked senior said. “They come from big colleges – which I like. I can see myself being a student and a football player there. I love their facilities and the city overall. The city reminds me of Prior Lake.”
Admiration was not a one-way street.
“They want athletic offensive linemen,” Whaley told northstarfootballnews.com. “They are doing a no-huddle offense. They want to run plays every twelve seconds this season. They think I am athletic and want me to be around 280 pounds.”
For now, Kent State sees him as a guard with an outside chance to play center.
“I haven't played offensive line since 10th grade,” Whaley explained. “If I stand out during camp, I won't red-shirt, but if I am not standing out, I will likely be red-shirted.”
If he is playing in year one or if he ends up using his first year as a red-shirt year Whaley has used college football as a reason to improve himself not only physically but also academically. He faced and overcame the obstacles in his way.