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January 7, 2012

Woodinville end opens up recruitment

Every day, Sawyer Whalen said he works out to get bigger, stronger and faster, trying to put on weight without losing his speed. Every day, Sawyer Whalen is thinking about what team he'll be with next season.

A defensive end from Woodinville High School's Class of 2012 in Woodinville, Wash., Whalen put everything he had into turning around a struggling football team.

All 6-foot-4, 220 pounds of him.

Sure, he's a little light for a defensive end, but that didn't stop him from being captain, helping lead his team to a KingCo 4A title and a trip to the state playoffs, and it hasn't stopped schools from looking at him with significant interest.

Washington, Washington State, Dartmouth, Wayne State, Nebraska, Central Washington and the University of Idaho are all on Whalen's radar, and all are still talking to him.

But this interest just recently picked back up.

Not too long ago, Whalen had made a solid verbal commitment to Portland State, and others back off. But then Portland State took its offer off the table.

"They gave out too many offers so now they're trying to figure out who they're going to keep offers with and who they're going to pull. So they pulled me," said Whalen, "I was like 'Whoa.' I have to wait until they figure it out…I haven't gotten any sort of timeline."

While he waits to hear Portland State's decision, Whalen won't slow down looking at other schools.

He has an official visit to Central Washington set up next weekend, and one to Washington State roughly two weeks after that. Whalen said that although Washington is still showing some interest, the Huskies haven't talked about an official visit and they currently prefer him as a walk-on.

Whalen said that walking-on somewhere is "definitely an option for me." He wants to do what's best for him not only athletically, but academically.

"I'm looking at it more from an educational standpoint," he said. "What college am I going to get the best education at outside of football? Because that's pretty important to me."

He already even has an idea of what he wants to major in: business or communications.

Not to say he isn't taking into consideration the coaching staff and the program as a whole.

He said that he is definitely looking at the coaching staff, specifically for "coaches that push you hard but at the same time are pretty understanding of what you're going through." Whalen said all the coaches he's talked to have fit that.

And Whalen, like most players, wants a team with a sense of closeness. Maybe Whalen feels this even more so after the ride he's been on during his time at Woodinville.

"The seniors turned (the program) around for three years," he said. "From two 4-5 seasons to 12-1. It's not about the individual, it's about the whole; playing for the community."

Whalen seems to be quite the people-person.

The best part of the recruiting process? To Whalen, it's not about the attention he's getting. It's about the people he meets along the way.

"I'm getting to meet a lot of new players," said Whalen, "a lot of these guys I don't see in the conference that we play that I get to meet in the recruiting process that I'll (then) get to see in college."

Whalen likes to meet these new players from other schools, but he's not going to be forgetting about the friends he's made on the Woodinville football team any time soon.

"Woodinville is just awesome. I'm always going to love every single guy on this team. I bonded with them more than anyone. I went through so much with them… it will definitely be hard to say goodbye when we graduate. We all kind of push each other even now that the season is over, even guys not playing college ball are in the weight room pushing me."


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