BEAUMONT — “In track, it’s not the most glorified sport,” Theriot, who also serves at head track coach, said. “Kids really have to enjoy the sport and I really think it helped him with football this year. Juggling multiple sports and the attitude he needed to get it done, there’s not a doubt that it has impacted his football career.”
But, that work ethic also shows up in his desire to take and use the criticism that coaches hand out during the season.
“It goes towards ‘want to,’” Neumann said. “He knows his limitations and has worked hard to narrow them. He hasn’t always had success. He’s taken harsh criticism, but he’s a guy that has never gone the other direction behind it. The criticism has always seem to stimulate him and not always in a vocal, outward way, but more in an inner determination.”
That inner determination led to Whaley seizing control of a starting role in the fall. While he jumped onto the coaching radar with his determination to get better, he earned a spot in the starting lineup because of his consistency.
“What I saw was a consistency in his performance,” Neumann said. “It wasn’t always at a high level, but it was always consistent. It gradually got better as the season went on. He became savvier for his position as the rest of the secondary did. That let them take more risks and try for bigger plays. He just steadily got better. I don’t remember huge valleys in his performance. He didn’t always have great games or do everything right, but it didn’t discourage him or hurt our football team. He just kept getting better.”
His position as one of the outside safeties in Nederland’s 4-2-5 scheme isn’t easy either. Whaley could be asked to be primarily a run supporter one week and then drop back into coverage most of the game the next. Sometimes, that change can happen from play to play, making lining up and knowing what everyone needs to do on each play critical to his success.