The linebacker from Madisonville, Texas, will be one of 29 seniors suiting up for their final game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Whaley has a career-high 43 tackles this season and has forced a team-high four fumbles.
Q: What’s it going to be like for you Saturday coming out of that tunnel one last time?
A: It’s hard to kind of put it into words because you really don’t know exactly how you’re going to take it. Me and Will (Compton) have joked about it a few times, how we’re going to cry. I’m not 100 percent sure the feeling that it will bring, but it definitely will be one that will be memorable, I’m sure.
Q: Have you watched other seniors in past years to see how they’ve reacted?
A: You watch it but you really don’t understand it. You’re probably not understanding until you’re in their position. Like I said, I try not to think about it because you’ll easily get tied up in those emotional feelings. So what I’m going to do is go out and prepare like any other week and then enjoy that moment when it comes.
Q: How much better does it make Senior Day when the team is playing for the things that are out there for it right now?
A: It makes it a lot better, and that’s something that we keep driving into, not only the seniors but the younger guys. It enables us to go out and prepare harder than you might usually do knowing that you have a Big Ten championship in front of you.
Q: Do you have a favorite Memorial Stadium memory?
A: Just playing in general, but for some reason, walking out the tunnel walk with that (American) flag this past Saturday was insane. It seemed like it was louder than ever. I really got emotional. It was a great memory to have.
Q: Was that wind kind of yanking on that flag?
A: It almost blew me over, man. It almost took me back to that end zone. It was kind of a challenge to run that flag down, so I made sure that I kind of kept my center of gravity low so that I didn’t get embarrassed in front of 85,000 people.
Q: Coach Pelini said he was almost taken aback by how calm the team was at halftime down 20-6 to Penn State. What do you make of that?
A: I think it’s just the positions that we’ve been in these last couple weeks, going into halftime down but knowing what we’re capable of. It’s just that confidence we have in each other … that we can easily get back in the game. Two touchdowns is nothing to our offense, the way they can put up numbers.
Q: Any idea what you’ll say to Coach Pelini when you’re introduced Saturday, with all that both of you have been through together the last five seasons?
A: I’ll probably just really thank him and let him know that I’ve enjoyed every moment of it, the good and bad, because it’s made me who I am today.