Friday, February 15, 2013
Watch List LB Zach Whitley in no hurry
By Sam Khan Jr.
HOUSTON -- When Houston North Shore linebacker Zach Whitley Jr. ventured to Austin for Texas' first junior day of the year, he quickly felt a sense of comfort.
The reason? The presence of two players he knows, two guys who came from the program he currently plays in.
Linebacker Zach Whitley says Texas and Texas A&M are even right now.
"As far as the people, it was comfortable, because it feels exactly like over here [at North Shore]," Whitley said. "As soon as I got there, I met Sed [Flowers] and Trey Hopkins. They were former North Shore players and it felt like home because I knew them. The relationship that they have with their players and the teammates have with each other, it just seems so comfortable."
The 2014 ESPN Watch List inside linebacker is a prospect who is picking up steam on the recruiting trail. He has held offers from Texas and Texas A&M since last year, but he has now attended junior days at each campus and recently picked up an offer from BCS champion Alabama.
But his visit to Texas elicited positive reviews from the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Whitley. He was impressed by the academic setup for student-athletes, enjoyed his time with the coaching staff and the tour of the campus itself.
In addition to getting some face time with head coach Mack Brown, Whitley spent some time with the defensive assistants as well.
"I spent a lot of time with Coach [Manny] Diaz, some time with Coach [Oscar] Giles, but mostly Coach Diaz," Whitley said. "He was just saying that he likes the fact that I'm a great listener and that he thinks that I fit his defense very well and that he likes the fact that I can move from side to side and I'm not just a middle [of the field] player, that I can actually get somewhere. He likes that about me and he was saying that 'WILL' linebacker, that's the key position he sees me playing."
Whitley was also intrigued by something Flowers shared with him regarding the team's workout routine and how it compares to that of North Shore, a perennial Texas high school football power.
"Sed told us that every drill that we do here at [North Shore], they do in college," Whitley said. "I was like man, that's crazy."
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The Alabama offer, which came last week, is something that really got Whitley's attention. He followed the Crimson Tide growing up and long admired the program.
"My dad is from Louisiana and I was raised around that area and I had a lot of friends that went to Alabama and I was real cool with [former North Shore receiver] DeAndrew [White] when he was here," Whitley said. "That's like a brother to me. Growing up, I always use to watch their games. I liked the way they played, so physical and fast and it fits my mentality. I love to work. Everybody there has a story. I like being around people like that because no matter what, they're always working for what they get."
Whitley said that currently, he has no preference on whether he wants to stay in Texas or leave the state to play his college ball. He has no leader established currently and is in no rush to make a decision, saying that he plans to wait until after his senior season is complete before making a decision.
"I want to focus on football and my goals here [at North Shore]," Whitley said. "I'm committed to my team."
After junior days with both the Aggies and Longhorns, and plans to attend more junior days in the future, Whitley has plenty to like about his two primary in-state suitors.
"Overall, right now, I like the fact that both schools are in Texas for one," he said. "And the comparisons, no school is higher. I like both schools, I like the programs, I like the coaches. They both have a family vibe in both schools. Academic-wise they both carry what I'm trying to major in, which is aerospace engineering. Really, I like both schools so far. I would also like to go to some more junior days."