NORMAN — Come December, the words walk-on will no longer precede Oklahoma running back Dominique Whaley's name.
Sooners coach Bob Stoops said Monday he had been planning to give the team's leading rusher a scholarship in December. That was his plan even before Whaley's season-ending ankle injury on the first play Saturday at Kansas State.
“This won't change that,” Stoops said, adding he told Whaley after the game that he intended to award him a scholarship. “I didn't want him to be worried about it.”
Whaley said on Twitter that he had surgery Sunday morning to repair the fractured left ankle, injured when a K-State defender fell into his leg. Whaley was released Monday from the hospital, Stoops said.
“He said he felt good,” Stoops said. “They'll be checking him out every day.”
Stoops said Sunday on his TV show that he expects Whaley back for the spring.
Stoops and OU's compliance director, Jason Leonard, said walk-ons are no different from scholarship players in terms of their treatment. The student-athlete is covered by his own insurance plan, if that's available. If not, then OU's insurance policy kicks in. Either way, thanks to NCAA bylaw 16.4.1, Whaley would not be stuck with the bill because of his current walk-on status.
Given the road to get to OU, perhaps Whaley has demonstrated the ability to clear hurdles in his path.
“He's a great worker,” Stoops said. “He'll do all he can, I know that.”
Whaley moved from Germany to Lawton during his junior year in high school, keeping him under the radar from college recruiters. After playing his freshman year at Langston, he spent a year at home caring for his siblings while his mother and stepfather served in Iraq.
He eventually walked on at OU in winter 2010, turning heads in the Sooners' spring scrimmages. He worked his way onto the two-deep before the 2011 season and had been the backfield's workhorse, carrying the ball 113 times. Sophomore Brennan Clay is second, with 52 carries.
Whaley finished the year with 627 yards and nine touchdowns, both team highs. He scored four of those touchdowns in the opener against Tulsa. His signature run was a 64-yard touchdown early in the second half against Texas.