BEAUMONT — NEDERLAND – Part of what makes high school football great is seeing players develop over a career, working hard to earn a spot in the starting lineup and then performing at a high level. For Nederland senior safety Bryce Whaley, that path to self-improvement came through the track team.
“Last spring, he did both baseball and track,” Nederland safeties coach Chris Theriot said. “He spent a lot of time working on his speed, because he knew what role he’d have this fall. He knew it’d help him in multiple sports and has done an incredible job working on and improving on that.”
Defensive backs generally need to be fast, and Whaley always had good speed, but needed to improve on the quick-twitch things that make up most sprints and football plays.
“I have the top end speed, but I needed to get better in those first few steps to get more explosive,” Whaley said. “It definitely helped. I practiced real hard with it and it paid off. It helped me get faster.”
That determination to get better was noticed by his coaches, as Whaley came up on the radar in the spring because of his work ethic.
“He’s a guy that is self-made, self-motivated,” Nederland head coach Larry Neumann said. “In his career, he’s come a long way because of his commitment and determination to get better. That caliber of character that he has goes a long way towards success. It’s not always about 40-yard dash times or how much you can bench press. There are others like him, but he’s the poster child for what his contribution to this team has been.”
In a prep sports world that sees more players moving toward year-round specialization, it’s refreshing and unusual to see someone like Whaley try to take on both baseball and track & field to improve himself.