Even before making an official visit to the campus, Tim Whatley was sold on making the University of Tennesse at Chattanooga his new home. The two-time all-state linebacker from Columbus' Carver High School committed to Mocs coaches Tuesday afternoon, becoming the fifth commitment for February's signing day.
"It just felt like a good fit, like home, just from what I know about the school, the program and the people already," Whatley said Tuesday night. "Just from talking so much with Coach [B.J.] Hogan, I just felt real comfortable and can't wait to get up there for my official visit now."
The 6-foot, 210-pound Whatley will be on campus Jan. 10 and fills a big area of need for the Mocs, who will sign at least four linebackers, and likely more, in this class.
Whatley chose UTC over offers from Georgia Southern, Mercer and Georgia State. Rated as high as a three-star prospect by ESPN, he was recruited by Duke and East Carolina earlier this season.
"I know that UTC won a share of the conference and could've made the playoffs," Whatley said. "I want to be a part of the group that helps get them to the playoffs now. There's a bright future there, plus it allows me to stay close to home to play, and that was important to me.
"I've played inside and outside linebacker, and it doesn't really matter to me where I fit in there. Whatever gets me on the field the fastest is what I'm willing to do."
Whatley was a three-year starter, averaging more than 100 tackles each of those seasons, including 128 total stops as a senior to go with three sacks and an interception, helping his team finish 11-2.
As his class salutatorian, with a 4.1 grade point average, Whatley is a part of Carver's Math, Science & Technology magnet program. He said he intends to major in chemistry and plans to become a pharmacist.
"Tim is a great kid and a really talented player," Carver coach Joe Kegler said. "He's not just smart in the classroom but has a great football I.Q., too. He's always in the film room studying, so he'll be ready when his time comes and will be like having a coach on the field. He was responsible for having our guys lined up correctly the last two seasons.
"I can promise this, he'll always be around the ball making plays and you won't ever have to worry about him doing anything to embarrass the program. Tim's the type kid you want your daughter to bring home. He's very loyal and I think UTC sold him on how much they really wanted him. It should be a real good fit."
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.