ILB Chad Whitener chooses California

To say that inside linebacker Chad Whitener (Mansfield, Texas/Mansfield) has a nose for the ball is an understatement.

After a 2011 season that included 195 tackles, Whitener decided to continue his career in college in the Pac-12. Whitener, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound middle linebacker, verbally committed to California on Tuesday, choosing the Golden Bears over heavy interest from TCU and Arkansas, in addition to offers from SMU, Colorado State, Louisiana Tech and Rice.

“Me and my dad looked at everything, and overall, it seemed like the perfect place for me,” Whitener said of Cal. “The academics, the conference … it’s where I wanted to be. It’s the best place for me to go.”

Whitener was a major contributor for a Mansfield defense that statistically had one of the best rushing defenses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 2011. The Tigers advanced three rounds deep in the Texas Class 5A Division II playoffs. Whitener was a ball hawk, averaging 15 tackles per game.

Whitener said TCU and Arkansas, as well as Baylor and Texas A&M, were considering offering him at their summer camps. After doing some online research, Whitener said Cal had everything he desired. Academically, Whitener owns a 3.75 grade-point average.

Athletically, Whitener brings a level of intensity and tenacity to the middle linebacker position that can be beneficial in Pac-12 play. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds, bench presses 335 pounds and squats 465.

“I was willing to wait for the other offers, but I just didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity like this,” said Whitener, who was recruited by Cal linebackers coach Kenwick Thompson. “We ran over everything, looked at the website and checked out the new facilities. Even though I haven’t visited yet, I really fell in love with Cal.”

Whitener said he will visit the campus on June 1. He became the fifth commitment and the first linebacker commit of the Golden Bears’ 2013 class.