With National Signing Day in the rear-view mirror, one of Minnesota’s best seniors was not hosting a Signing Day event. He is not looking to make a college decision until the next signing day early next year. Prior Lake’s Blake Whaley hopes his patience pays off.
The Lakers played one of the toughest schedules in the state in 2019. They navigated that schedule to a 5-5 season.
“On defense, we played the run well,” Whaley said. “Teams couldn’t run the ball well against us. That showed against the good teams.”
Traditionally a running team, last year the Lakers went to a spread, passing offense.
“This year, we came back to a predominantly running offense,” Whaley explained. “I think the program will stick with that going forward. We ran the ball well on the outside. We had some good guys like Dylan Bair who could get to the outside, and we were able to set the edge.”
Whaley left everything on the field.
“I feel like I had a great senior season,” Whaley said. “I played my heart out for this team. I was elected captain, so I had a leadership role. I had to set the tone to show the young guys how to do things correctly.”
As a junior, he played strictly defensive end. As a senior, he played all over the defensive line.
“The coaches would usually put me against whoever they thought was the best offensive lineman – whether that was on the inside or the outside.”
Moving around on the Lakers’ 3-4 defense required different skills.
“When you are playing nose guard, you have to be the toughest guy on the field,” the 6’3″ 250-pound senior said. “You have to be able to take on at least two guys at once. When you line up in a five-technique, you have to play the edge, be fast, use your hands, and be tougher than the guy across from you.”
“I feel like I am better on the inside,” Whaley continued. “I think I am more physical than most of the guys on the field.”
He is physical, but that might not be his best attribute.
“I use my hands well,” the two-year starter said. “I stay low, get off the ball quickly, and have quick feet.”
Whaley also played offense – in a limited role – as a blocking tight end in short-yardage packages. Recruited as a defensive player, Whaley knows what he needs to work on to have success at the next level.
“I need to get faster. Every program wants me to be fast and want me to get off the ball. That is my focus.”
He is focused on his future, but also the Lakers’ football future.
“I am in the weight room every day after school I am in there to be a leader for the younger guys. I am trying to show the underclassmen you have to work your butt off if you want to be good.”
Whaley will be in the weight room this winter and spring – getting ready for college football.
“I would say I have a lot of DI interest right now. I have a lot of coaches coming to our school to visit me. I have a lot of DII interest too. I am not going to sign until February.”
Whaley’s brother – Zach – plays for Kent State and has been an essential resource for his younger brother.
“He has been through this and knows what goes on,” Blake told northstarfootballnews.com. “He knows most of these coaches. He tells me what to expect. He waited to sign too. That is when Kent State picked him up.”
Whaley has DII offers and DI interest.
“I have been offered by Bemidji, Concordia, U of Mary, and a lot of other schools have been talking to me,” NFN’s 83rd ranked senior said. “From DI, I have been talking to Minnesota, Iowa State, and Northern Iowa. They like how physical I am. They like my speed and my hands.”
Wherever he ends up, Whaley will be on the defensive line.
“They want to see how big I get before they decide if I play on the inside or outside.”
He is still looking for the right fit.
“I want to be in a place that feels like family and with a coaching staff that feels welcoming.”
He is willing to be patient – at least for a couple more months – to find the right fit.