AUSTIN, Texas -- Chris Whaley came into Texas at 235 pounds and as a running back.
He played four games at that position as a freshman, never making his mark on the field, or in the stat book, for that matter.
Fifty pounds and a year later, Whaley had moved to the other side of the ball and into the role of a rush end. He started a game, played in 12, had a sack and a couple of tackles for loss. More than that, he was seen as a player on the rise.
At 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds, Whaley still had that running back quickness, good hands and an explosive first step.
Now, for the 13th game in his sophomore year, Whaley will move to tight end.
“Because the way we're packaging things, you can do that, and Chris is such a good athlete and he can run, he can catch, and he's 285 pounds now,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “The way our offense is packaging things now, you can play a guy in five different packages that will give him 10 or 15 plays that you can work on in a 10 or 15-minute period and then go be a defensive tackle the rest of the day.
“I'm just kind of playing with it, and of course, when you act like you want to take one away from [defensive line coach] Bo Davis, he becomes the best defensive tackle in the history of college football.”
Whaley may not be the best defensive lineman in the history of college football, but what he might be is one of the best athletes on the Texas football team. Playing three positions in less than two years is an impressive feat.
And his role at tight end might be more crucial against Cal than first thought. Dominique Jones, who started five games at tight end, was declared academically ineligible. That leaves Blaine Irby and D.J. Grant at that position. So Whaley’s playing time may increase out of necessity.
But Brown promises the move will not be permanent.
“He will not move from defensive tackle,” the coach said. “He's doing really well, and we really like his pass rush ability on third down.
“But we think with a couple of guys, an athlete as good as he is, that he might could give us ten plays on offense and still be a defensive tackle,” Brown said.
Of course they never intended to move Whaley when they recruited him either. But that first move -- from running back to defensive line -- has worked out.
“We're too critical on those guys early because he's growing into a really good football player,” Brown said. “And from 235 to 285, and now one of our best pass rushers that we may look at playing both ways, Chris Whaley will end up being in the NFL I think before he leaves here.”