NORMAN — Dominique Whaley will not be remembered as one of the primary, or even secondary, reasons Oklahoma destroyed Texas in 2011. But he did have one of the most memorable plays in the 55-17 Red River rout.
That play, the 64-yard touchdown dash in the third quarter, also illustrated some of the qualities that have vaulted the junior running back to No. 1 on the Sooners' depth chart — and made him the subject of national attention.
Whaley is even being considered this week for the cover of Sports Illustrated, which is focusing on walk-ons contributing for major FBS programs. Whaley is the prime posterboy for that, given his rise.
The most decorated non-scholarship player in the country has now rushed 83 times for 462 yards and eight touchdowns in the No. 3 Sooners' five victories.
Whaley had been stuffed by Texas until what was his longest run of the season. He hit the right side, got good blocks from tight end Austin Haywood and receiver Ryan Broyles – and then he hit the jets, speeding into the end zone to increase OU's lead to 48-10.
A national reporter wondered aloud Saturday morning why one of the country's best teams would need to rely on a walk-on at a skill position. Answer: Because this is not your average walk-on.
OU coach Bob Stoops mentioned about a month ago that Whaley's workout numbers were similar to one of the program's best pure athletes of all time, Adrian Peterson.
Monday, OU revealed those numbers. Stoops wasn't exaggerating, either.
Whaley was just behind the All-Pro in some categories – the same measurables factored into NFL scouting evaluations. He was better than Peterson in several areas, including broad jump, vertical jump, power clean, squat and bench press.
Think about that: A player who was not recruited from Lawton MacArthur essentially matches up athletically with one of the most ballyhooed prospects in OU history.
“Ever since I've known him, he's put up more weight than anybody,” said Sooners safety Javon Harris, who played with Whaley their junior and senior years at MacArthur. “When he got to our high school, we said, ‘Who's this cat coming in from Germany who's fast and putting up all this weight? Who is this guy?'
“All I could think was, ‘This kid here, he's a different animal.'”
Like with Whaley's production, Stoops said the workout numbers didn't reflect anything he hadn't seen on the practice field after he walked on in spring 2010.
“It doesn't surprise me,” he said. “I've been watching him for a couple of years now. It's not like all of a sudden, I saw him and said, ‘Whoa.'”
But those on the outside of the program continue to have that reaction. The success story continues for an army brat who left NAIA Langston after a season.
“I tell him almost every day that this is a blessing,” Harris said. “I tell him to keep working. Knowing him, he will.”