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Bengals offer contract to Whaley

Apr. 29, 2008 @ 01:59 AM

IRONTON -- Tyler Whaley's dream continues.

Whaley, an Ohio State walk-on fullback and former Ironton High School football standout, took another step in his journey to make his fantasy a reality.

During the NFL Draft the Cincinnati Bengals called and said they wanted to sign him.

"When the third round started, the Cincinnati Bengals' running backs coach called me and said they were looking at a few fullbacks," Whaley said. "When the draft was over, my agent called and said I had a contract offer from the Bengals. I said, 'take it'."

Whaley, whose rise from a non-scholarship lineman to a regular contributor at fullback for the Buckeyes last season, is the topic of an upcoming book by Columbus Dispatch newspaper sports writer Ken Gordon.

He begins workouts Thursday with the Bengals.

"We have a rookie mini-camp this weekend and then I'll just have to prove myself and survive the cuts to make each camp," he said.

Proving himself has never been a problem for the 5-foot-11 Whaley. Coming out of high school, he was told by scouts that he was too short to play football at a major college and was offered scholarships to several smaller schools.

His determination, however, was something none of the scouts measured.

Whaley's dream was to become a Buckeye. An improbable career that included two national championship games and four wins against rival Michigan was capped off earlier this year when Whaley's teammates voted him as the Buckeyes' Most Inspirational Player.

Mission accomplished.

Next on his dream chart was to someday wear the orange and black stripes of the Bengals.

"Cincinnati has been my team since I was a kid," he said. "I've always been a Bengals fan. Now, I get to be a Tiger again and wear the orange and black."

Surrounded by family at the home of his grandparents, Tommy and Dottie Tipton, Whaley wasn't the only one in the mood to celebrate the biggest day of his life to date.

"This place was rockin'," he said. "Everybody went crazy when I told them, but it hasn't really sunk in yet."

It should sink in this week as Whaley begins the next chapter of his story.

Whaley said he will go to the Bengals with the mentality that he's starting at the bottom and has to earn a position, noting the similarity to his Ohio State career.

"I know going in what to expect," he said.