It was probably not the best day in Tyler Whaley’s life.
Although the Buckeyes emerged with a 30-7 victory over Minnesota on Sept. 29, the senior center-turned-fullback left the game with both his head and his ego slightly bruised.
On the nationally televised contest, Whaley began drawing the attention of the game’s play-by-play announcers for his high motor and desire to clear opposing defenders out of the way.
However, they could not help but point to Whaley’s midsection. At 6-1, 265 pounds, the former walk-on sports a bit of a paunch around his midsection. Upon arriving home from the game, he had several messages waiting for him from friends.
“I got all the old friends from back at home and my good friend at different schools and here and they’re like, ‘Did you see it? You can come over; I recorded it,’ ” he told BuckeyeSports.com. “Before you know it I’m over there watching it. My fiancée, she actually recorded the game while I was gone so usually when I come home I sit there and watch it. I was like, ‘Did you hear what they just said about me?’ and she started laughing.”
“That’s who I am and I’m proud of it,” he said. “I was an offensive lineman first and came over to fullback, so I’m going to have a little hefty side to me, which is no problem. I lost about 10, 15 pounds to help me move around a bit quicker but I’m not sporting a six-pack or anything.”
While the barbs he took on television were easy enough to shake off, it took a bit longer to shake off the impact of a fierce collision between Whaley and a Minnesota defender during the second half.
Meeting the defender in the hole, Whaley seemed to be fine until he started trying to walk off the field. He was assisted to by trainers and escorted to the bench. Although he knew where he was, what the score was and what play the Buckeyes had just run, Whaley said not all was well in his head.
“Really, it wasn’t pain,” he said. “It was more just knocked silly. I knew where I was at, I knew the score of the game, I knew what play we had run. I just couldn’t find the ground. I got knocked off-balance there for a while.”
By the following Wednesday, Whaley had been cleared to resume practicing with the team – gut and all.
Usually a pretty talkative guy, sophomore wide receiver Brian Hartline found himself unusually dumbfounded while speaking to reporters this week.
The question posed was, “Is the Big Ten better or worse this season?”
Trying to talk it out to himself, Hartline was unable to come up with a definitive answer.
“I still can’t decide if the Big Ten is down or the teams are just more balanced or are playing better in general,” he said. “I can’t decide if the so-called lower teams like Illinois or Indiana are just playing better ball. I can’t really tell. You start watching some of the teams and you’re like, ‘Well, they’re still playing pretty good, but Illinois is pretty darn good too, so is Indiana, so is Michigan State.’
“I can’t decide if it’s down or it’s just a pretty even keel. There’s so much talent these days that the lower teams really aren’t lower teams anymore.”
Fair Or Not Fair?
It is a rule that has drawn nationwide criticism as the NFL season has gone along, but OSU kicker Ryan Pretorius remains undecided on its merits.
With coaches allowed to call timeouts from the sidelines, kickers across the league have been forced to re-kick potentially game-winning field goals as coaches have called for the timeout a split-second before the snap.
OSU’s junior kicker said he can see both sides of the situation.
“Let’s put it this way: If they call a timeout and you make your first one and you miss your next, it’s not fair. But if it’s the other way around it is fair,” Pretorious said with a laugh.
“You can’t think or worry about that. If you make the kick and they called a timeout, who cares, just do it again.”
The Power Of The Pen
Most people would not consider themselves lucky to be buried at the bottom of the depth chart while also not on scholarship. K.C. Christian is, and he has a letter to thank for his current situation.
A redshirt freshman, the walk-on running back for the Buckeyes had always dreamed of coming to OSU. As a result, he wrote a letter to head coach Jim Tressel pleading his case.
“When I was in high school I wrote Coach Tressel a letter saying, ‘I am going to play football for you.’ I said, ‘I’m not the biggest guy, the fastest guy, but I’ll work hard and give you everything I’ve got. I’m smart and I know how to play the game.’ ”
From there, the 6-0, 195-pound graduate of Kitts Hill (Ohio) Rock Hill said he got a letter from the recruiting office asking for a highlight film. Now, nearly two years later, Christian got a carry against Northwestern in week four, gaining one yard.
“For me personally it was something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “Growing up in the state of Ohio, you want to play for Ohio State. It’s what kids do in Ohio. I had offers to D-III small schools and had some even tell me I’d be a starter right away, but I didn’t want that. I wanted to come here and experience this and play for Coach Tressel.”