There is no such thing as “I can’t do it.”
That was the message Madisonville and University of Nebraska graduate Alonzo Whaley had for members of Madisonville High School’s Class of 2014. …
There is no such thing as “I can’t do it.”
That was the message Madisonville and University of Nebraska graduate Alonzo Whaley had for members of Madisonville High School’s Class of 2014. Whaley was one of five people who served as speakers at the Senior Day ceremony on Wednesday, May 7, at First United Methodist Church.
“If you have a dream, it’s never too late to pursue it,” Whaley told the audience.
Whaley graduated from Nebraska in December 2012 with a degree in criminal justice, and he was a member of Madisonville’s Class of 2008. His topic was “preparing for the real world.”
Whaley was one of five guest speakers at Senior Day. Madisonville 2010 graduate Meaghan Ghormley spoke on college life, while Laney Smith of the MCISD Technology Department spoke about social media, Greg McBee of The National Bank in Madisonville spoke on finances, and Madison County District Attorney Brian Risinger spoke about the law.
Whaley was a four-year letterman in basketball and a three-year letterman in football. He admitted basketball was his favorite sport growing up.
Although basketball was Whaley’s first love, football ended up being his sport. He jokingly told the audience why he went with football instead of basketball.
“I’ve held a grudge against Chris because he’s 6-foot-3 and I’m 6-1,” Whaley said.
Whaley has another distinction as well. He was the only player in Madisonville basketball history to have played for Johnny Carter (2005), Terrence McCloud (2006, 2007) and Brian Thurmond (2008).
But football ended up being the perfect sport for Whaley. During his junior season at Madisonville (2006), Whaley led the team with 172 tackles and three quarterback sacks en route to first team all-state honors.
He also did well offensively that season. As a fullback in 2006, Whaley ran for 143 yards and two touchdowns, and caught a pair of passes for 60 yards and a score, but his biggest contribution was opening holes for his brother, Chris, to run through to the tune of 2,130 yards and 24 touchdowns.
The Mustangs finished 7-4 that season, but it only paved the way for a breakthrough year in 2007 — Whaley’s senior year. He recorded 160 tackles, four sacks, eight forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and an interception return for a score.
Whaley and the Mustangs finished 9-2 in 2007, which included a 5-0 mark in district play. He entertained offers from Nebraska, Texas A&M, Arizona State, Louisiana Tech, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Missouri.
Whaley narrowed down the choice to Nebraska or A&M, but ultimately chose Nebraska.
“I chose Nebraska because of the distance,” he said. “I wanted to become more independent.”
After redshirting as a freshman (2008), Whaley did not see the field until his sophomore year (2010). He played in nine games, and recorded nine tackles and one for a loss, but his season was cut short.
“I was at a crossroads in my life,” Whaley said. “I was removed from the football team until I got my grades right. It was at that time where I found myself a relationship with God.”
It was through that experience where Whaley not only rejoined the Cornhuskers’ roster, but he also learned that there was more to life than football.
“I came back from Ground Zero,” he said. “I had great junior and senior years, and I learned that life is bigger than football. That was my highlight of my time at Nebraska. That was a life highlight, not just a football highlight.”
The 2011 season brought significant change for Whaley and the Cornhuskers. Now a member of the Big 10 Conference after years of Big 8/Big 12 membership, Nebraska finished 9-4 overall and 5-3 in Big 10 play.
Whaley’s play rejuvenated in 2011 as well. He recorded 11 tackles and two for a loss, and saw action in all 13 games.
Whaley also had a great senior year. He started eight of 14 games, and recorded 65 tackles, four tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a sack for the 9-4 Cornhuskers, who also finished 7-1 in Big 10 play.
Whaley was not selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, and decided to put his degree to use. He works for the Harris County Juvenile Probation Center in Houston.
Whaley also is a father to two young daughters — Zoriah, 4, and Amia, 2.
“I don’t have a million dollars, but I have two beautiful daughters,” he said. “Do not lose everything trying to gain it all. I have God and I have my family. Whenever I go through my tough times, I know that God is with me.”
In September, many of Madisonville’s new graduates will attend college just like Whaley did. He had a valuable piece of advice for them.
“Be careful for what you get yourself into,” Whaley said. “Be smart when you have fun.”