Former Ironton and Ohio State football standout and current Cincinnati Bengals player Tyler Whaley visited the Notre Dame Football Camp at Notre Dame High School on Monday.
Whaley played football for the Fighting Tigers under coach Bob Lutz from 2000-02 and reached the playoffs all three years reaching the regional finals in 2000.
After graduating from Ironton in the spring of 2003, Whaley attended Ohio State University, where he walked on to the football team before earning a scholarship to play for the Buckeyes under head coach Jim Tressel.
Whaley said that it took a lot of work and a lot of time to get to the level of where he is today.
"Anytime you play sports you're going to face adversity and different challenges," said Whaley. "The kids from the southern Ohio area grow up middle class, working hard for what they deserve to get."
Whaley said that most of the kids grew up with an attitude much like his was.
"I was going to do whatever it took to strive to be good at what I did," said Whaley. "I was raised in Ironton and I played football there in a good football traditional program."
Though Whaley was somewhat short and was not recruited, he walked on to the squad at Ohio State, which Whaley said is very difficult.
"Being a walk-on is extremely challenging. You're starting there with the guys that are on scholarship. It's hard to see them receiving so much and you're at the bottom. You have to scrap, as you kind of have your back against the wall," Whaley explained.
Whaley said that if you keep trying and keep up the hard work that it will pay off in the end.
"You got to bury down and keep working hard, getting in the weight room and doing all the extra things," said Whaley.
Whaley said that players from this area seemed to be getting more attention from college coaches and are being recruited harder than they have been in the past.
"Usually kids in this area really have to fight (to be noticed)," said Whaley. "Once a person leaves this area and signs with a team, he puts the name of the southern Ohio area on his back."
Whaley said that the more people who go away and prove themselves, the more that will drive coaches and colleges to keep coming down to this area to get more players to help make their programs successful.
Whaley was asked what was going through his mind the first time he ran to the field at Ohio Stadium as a freshman.
"Not to trip and fall when I ran out," Whaley joked. "It's overwhelming. I grew up an Ohio State Buckeye fan. There is nothing else you dream about as a kid. It's so hard to describe how it feels."
Whaley in his time at Ohio State had a 4-0 record against Michigan.
"It's the biggest rivalry in sports in my opinion. I actually played in it and it's a battle. That game means so much," said Whaley. "It can turn a not so good season into a successful season with a win. You always want to beat those guys up north."
The reason that Whaley has came down to this area to let the kids see that someone from this area has gone away and done some great things.
"They can do it too," said Whaley." Coming f from Notre Dame High School they can do the same I did. Dream big, listen to your teachers and your coaches and get a good education."
Whaley said that it is one way for some of the kids to get a chance to go to college.
"If they can perform on the field and in the classroom that can get them a free education and that will help so much in the long run," said Whaley. "Education absolutely comes first and athletics can help a lot of kids who can't afford to pay their way through college."