Dominique Whaley

Landry Jones, Junior Quarterback: Jones is the best passer that Texas has faced at this point in the young season. He is throwing for over 360 yards a game so far this season, with a pair of 400+ yard performances in his last two games. He is not particularly mobile, having only three net rushing yards this season, so pressuring him could be key. Half of his touchdown passes for the season came last week against Ball State where he threw five in just over two quarters. Jones is an accurate passer who throws an impressive deep ball. If he is given time to throw, he will connect on a lot of passes down the field, which would really put the Longhorns behind the eight-ball.

Ryan Broyles, Senior Wide Receiver: Oklahoma’s record receiver is on pace for another big season this year, having caught 38 balls for 476 yards this season. The only game that he hasn’t gotten over 100 yards receiving was against Florida State where he ran for 55 yards. His 304 career receptions are tied for the Big 12 record currently held by former Texas Tech running back, Taurean Henderson. He is only 12 catches behind the NCAA career record holder, Taylor Stubblefield of Purdue. He had a 13 catch game against Missouri, and a 14 catch game against Tulsa already this season, so he is more than capable of setting the record against the young Texas secondary.

Travis Lewis, Senior Linebacker: Lewis is the leader of the Oklahoma defense. He suffered a setback in fall practice when he broke his foot before the season started. Projected to be out until next week, Lewis came back earlier than expected two weeks ago against Florida State. Despite missing a game with the injury, he has 23 tackles and overcame the foot injury to lead the team in tackles twice this season, including his first game back against the Seminoles. Lewis, an NFL caliber players, is widely considered one of the top linebackers in the nation.

Dominique Whaley, Junior Running Back: Whaley has been the surprise of the Big 12. A junior college transfer, he has come in and provided the Sooners with a rushing attack that many thought would not be there after Demarco Murray left. He has rushed for 379 yards and seven touchdowns this season on 5.4 yards per carry. The walk-on has given Oklahoma another dimension to its offense to balance out Jones’ passing attack. He was stellar in the two Sooner blowouts at home this season, but had trouble in the pair of ten-point wins they played against Florida State and Missouri. He rushed for 139 yards in those two games combined, compared to 131 from game one against Tulsa. But he has proven that he should not be overlooked, especially against Texas defense that has given up big runs through the tackles.

Dominique Whaley has gone from a virtually unknown walk-on to one of the Big 12’s best running backs.

Whaley is listed as a co-starter with five-star recruit sophomore Brennan Clay. He is also ahead of four-star recruit Roy Finch. As the Sooners continue their quest to remain undefeated this season at the Cotton Bowl, Whaley is going to have an important role, even though he is playing without a scholarship.

“Typically, there’s not a lot of guys that show up that have the ability he has,” said running backs coach Cale Gundy.

“We’ve always had walk-ons that have been very good players and have earned scholarships ... But for someone to come in with that ability is a little unusual.”

Whaley went virtually unnoticed by recruiters because he did not attend summer camps in high school and he grew up in a military family. In addition, he played slot receiver his senior year while Oklahoma teammate Javon Harris was the featured back.

He did have offers from Emporia State and Langston. But he turned them down to be a student at Oklahoma.

“He’s an incredible athlete,” said Sooners quarterback Landry Jones. “He kind of came out nowhere and made a name for himself in spring ball ... Sometimes the five stars don’t work out, and sometimes the zero stars turn out to be five stars in college.”

Jones describes him as “a diamond in the rough.”

Whaley scored four touchdowns in his Sooner debut. He rushed for 131 yards on 18 carries in Oklahoma’s win against Tulsa this season.

Oklahoma center Ben Habern and linebacker Tony Jefferson were shocked when they found out Whaley was a walk on.
“Since the first day he got here, he opened all our eyes real big,” Jefferson said. “We’re like, ‘You’re a walk-on? You should be playing somewhere.’”

He has rushed for 100 yards in two of Oklahoma’s four games and has seven touchdowns this season. That ties him for 13th nationally and first in the Big 12. He has 70 carries for 379 yards this season. Not bad for someone who didn’t start during high school.

“He’s a freak,” said fullback Trey Millard. “I love blocking for him. I know any block I can make can spring him.”

Whaley is tough. He runs aggressively and isn’t afraid to take hits. He was briefly out of Oklahoma’s matchup against Ball State. But he returned soon after coming out of the game and scored a 25-yard touchdown.

“He takes some shots,” Jones said. “Let’s just pray he lasts through the year; it’s been great having him in the backfield, he’s making a lot of plays for us.”

Center Gane Ikard has been impressed with Whaley’s play and said Whaley hits people, rather than gets hit.

“You can see with how hard he runs, how hard he plays, he’s breaking all kinds of tackles,” Ikard said. “He’s starting to be a complete back, he runs with power, runs with speed and he can catch out of the backfield.”

Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said whoever has the “hot hand” will play and get the ball. Whaley definitely has the hot hand right now.

“I’m not going to run any lighter because I wasn’t recruited,” Whaley said. “I’m going to run as hard as I can and try to prove I can play with these guys. I guess I’ve proved it.”

Clay has been battling injuries recently, so Whaley may have to step up even more this weekend when the Sooners meet the Longhorns.

“Bring it on, I’m ready for it,” Whaley said. “I’ll do whatever I can for my team.”