MADISONVILLE, Texas - Chris Whaley has been one of the most productive offensive players in the state of Texas over the last three years, totaling more than 6,000 rushing yards and 90 touchdowns during his sophomore, junior and senior seasons at Madisonville High.
Along the way, Whaley has racked up countless area and state honors, including being named a two-time district MVP and earning first-team all-state honors in 2007. On Tuesday afternoon, in front of a packed auditorium at Madisonville High School, Whaley's list of awards extended to the national level when it was announced that he's been selected to play in the 2009 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
"It is a great honor to be selected to play in this game," Whaley said. "It's the best of the best so that's really a great honor.
During the ceremony, a nervous Whaley - who confessed he'd rather be on the field - thanked his family, including his mother and older brother Alonzo, who plays at Nebraska, the Madisonville coaches and his Mustang teammates for helping him achieve the honor.
With his Madisonville football career officially in the books after the team's season came to an end earlier this month, Whaley said his full attention will now turn towards preparing for the Army Bowl. As a player that comes from a relatively small school compared to many of the other participants (Madisonville High School lists a total enrollment of 651 students in its four grade levels), Whaley feels he'll have something to prove.
"I'm just going to step on the field and give it everything I've got, show them that small schools have talent too," he said. "I'm going to be nervous and excited at the same time. But once I get down there and start playing, I'll be all right. I know that I'm going to have to go down there to show that I have talent against players that are my equal. It's going to be a challenge but it will be fun."
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Whaley rushed for 1910 yards and 24 touchdowns on 187 carries as a senior in a nine-game season, and he achieved those numbers despite playing on a team with limited experience and opposing defenses stacking the line of scrimmage in every game.
"He's just so big. We had a short season on a nine-game season due to Hurricane Ike and with less of a supporting cast this year, he actually averaged more per game than he did as a junior or sophomore," said Madisonville head coach Greg Morgan. "And that was with brand new faces surrounding him. We only returned seven players from last year's team, and we always faced nine or 10 in the box. We were limited in our passing abilities this year, so everything we did was through him.
"What he did this year was pretty fascinating to watch."
Whaley, who participated in the Football University Top Gun Showcase Camp in Florida last summer, said he's still soaking up the fact that he's received such a prestigious honor. But now that it's official, he has set some lofty goals.
"I never have seen myself in this position. It's a great chance for me to go out and show everyone, play my best," Whaley said. "My plan is to get the MVP trophy."