Rated as the No. 10 athlete nationally and the 18th-best prospect in the state of Texas, high school running back Devrah Whaley came to Austin last Friday and left with an offer from Strong & Co. The first running back prospect of the 2016 class to receive an offer from the Longhorns, Whaley quickly took to Twitter that evening with the announcement.
Standing at 6' 0" and weighing in at 190 lbs, Whaley is a versatile athlete for Central Senior HS (Beaumont, TX) who plays at both the halfback and free safety positions. He currently holds offers from Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech, Missouri, and Ole Miss in addition to several other regional schools. Whaley made Junior Day visits to both Texas and Texas A&M in February, and the Aggies and Longhorns are considered to be the leaders in his recruitment.
Similar to athlete Christian Wallace of Katy Tompkins HS (another prospect with an offer from Texas), Whaley has tremendous speed in space, both with and without the ball. As a running back his workload is usually limited to ~15 touches, but he often gains 100+ yards per game exclusively on sweep plays from the WR and RB positions thanks to his quickness around the corner. Once downfield Whaley can make cuts and change directions extremely quickly, darting out from behind blockers and shooting past flat-footed safeties. He can lower his pads and run with power, although his ball security is suspect when doing so - Central Senior stopped using him frequently in goal-line formations after a key goal-line fumble cost Central a game against Summer Creek HS. Ball security may certainly be an important aspect of his game to improve if he wants to crack the starting rotation at the 40 Acres.
As a safety, Devwah is unafraid to lower his shoulder and launch himself into oncoming ball-carriers. He can slip past blockers very well, but often tackles high - a habit he will pay the price for at the collegiate level. In pass coverage, he closes to receivers very quickly and seems to have a knack for reading the quarterback's eyes. His physicality on contested passes is admirable, and likely one of the main reasons he received an offer from Texas - Strong wants large, rangy safeties who excel in press coverage and Whaley fits the bill. As of now though, it's unclear whether Texas will recruit him as a running back or as a free safety - Texas Tech had him take all his reps at the RB position during their camp, but no other school has let slip their position intentions for Whaley.
Texas will have plenty of instate competition for the services of this speedburner. Texas Tech and Baylor have made concerted efforts to get into Whaley's recruitment early, and a likely A&M offer also looms large for the talented recruit. But right now, Whaley's future is up in the air - other than a couple of premature Crystal Ball predictions for A&M on the heels of his Junior Day visit to College Station, the buzz on Whaley hasn't been deafening as of late. Strong and his staff will likely need a good 2015 season to convince Whaley to don the burnt orange - it's easy to recruit when your on-field performance is doing all the talking.