Whalen keys football's upswing
Issue date: 8/28/09 Section: Football
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In January 2006, with the application deadline approaching, offensive coordinator Dereck Slesh found Whalen at a combine in Pittsburgh and invited him to come to campus. Fortunately for the program, Whalen ultimately decided to come to Case. Now a senior, Whalen has lead the Spartans to back-to-back undefeated seasons and playoff appearances and is one of three returning finalists for the Gagliardi Award, Division III's version of the Heisman Trophy.
"Everything fell into place. I wanted someplace that I could play right away and get a great education and Case was the school that fit the mold most," said Whalen. "Plus, I had a bunch of people in my ear about how good of a school Case was and I wouldn't want to pass on the opportunity."
Prior to Whalen stepping on campus, Case did not have much success in football. He came to Case with average expectations, but thought that with the right pieces in place, the team could have some success.
"I figured with the right people here we could maybe bring it up a little bit, maybe go 7-3 or 8-2, but I never imagined going undefeated and making the playoffs two years in a row, being nationally ranked and becoming a Gagliardi finalist. I never imagined any of that."
Although Whalen started playing early in his freshman year, it wasn't all sunshine and kittens from there. He played well right away, but as he puts it, "Towards the middle of the season, I kind of started trailing off a little bit, not playing as well as I had. But then again I didn't really know much about college football at that point, I was just kind of thrown in the fire."