Devy Watch: RB Devwah Whaley, Arkansas

Devwah Whaley (@devwah_whaley) is a running back for the Arkansas Razorbacks that will be eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft. He was rated the third-best running back in the nation by 247Sports. Whaley is from Beaumont, Texas and ran for 1,701 yards and 23 TD as a senior at Central High School. His offer list was long and distinguished and he was actually committed to the University of Georgia but decommitted upon hearing that Mark Richt was moving on. In my opinion, Whaley made a great decision in going to Arkansas as he is slated to be the Hog’s top back in 2017 while he would still be at least one year out at Georgia before having a similar opportunity.

As a true freshman, Whaley ran for 602 yards on 110 carries (5.5 ypc) and scored 3 TD. As the season progressed, he contributed in the pass game making 6 catches for 139 yards for an incredible 23.3 yards-per-catch. Rawleigh Williams was the workhorse for Arkansas last season, but he chose to retire from football this spring after suffering his second neck injury. Whaley’s 110 carries accounted for 24% of the Hog’s rushing attempts in 2016. Williams had 245 carries last season and I anticipate that Whaley will be asked to shoulder a load comparable to that in 2017. From a statistical standpoint, the two were almost mirror images of each other in both efficiency and explosiveness.

Whaley is a one-cut runner. Listed at 5’11” and 216 pounds, Whaley is best as a downhill runner and has the body type that equips him to handle the rigors of running between the tackles while also possessing the speed and agility to win on the perimeter. There isn’t a verified 40 time for him but he told reporters he ran a laser-timed 4.45-second 40-yard dash while in high school. He has very nice burst and gets up to his top speed very quickly and has enough long speed to be a legitimate home-run threat.

In 2016, Whaley had 19 carries that went 10+ yards. Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema had this to say about Whaley to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, “He’s probably the most talented high school running back that I’ve ever coached. He’s special. His first-to-third step is pretty impressive.” That is high praise considering that Bielema has coached players like Montee Ball, Melvin Gordon, and Alex Collins. In the clips below, you will see Whaley’s ability to run inside with burst and a rare combination of agility and power.

Devwah Whaley one cut and burst v. UF 2016
Devwah Whaley one cut and YAC v. Miss St 2016
Devwah Whaley downhill run v. Miss St 2016
Devwah Whaley cutback run long TD v. Alcorn St
Devwah Whaley B2B hard runs v. Alcorn St 2016

Whaley’s balance is one of his most impressive attributes. His feet are lightning-quick and he is decisive with the ball in his hands. He sees the field well and consistently falls forward for additional yardage. In the clips below, he shows off his ability to bounce outside and navigate the open field.

Devwah Whaley single cut v. Miss St 2016
Devwah Whaley nice balance bounces outside v. Ole Miss 2016
Devwah Whaley toss sweep v. Ole Miss 2016

While he was lightly used as a pass-catcher in 2016, he shows that he can be an asset and flashes as a receiver dating back to his high school tape. Arkansas Offensive Coordinator Dan Enos is a brilliant play-caller that has consistently shown mastery of timing when to dial-up screen plays to his backs.

Devwah Whaley screen game v. UF 2016
Devwah Whaley screen v. UF 2016

These final clips have one of my favorite runs of the entire 2016 season. Yes, that is the New York Jet’s first round draft pick, Jamal Adams, getting ragdolled by then true-freshman Whaley!

Devwah Whaley stiff arms Jamal Adams v. LSU 2016
Devwah Whaley stiff arms Jamal Adams Angle 2 v. LSU 2016

Devwah Whaley is an incredibly gifted running back. By all accounts, he is a great teammate and has a very professional approach to the game. As a freshman, he asked to be reassigned roommates because he felt the guys he had been living with weren’t serious enough about football. Whaley has all of the tools to dominate the collegiate and pro-games. The two areas I would like to see him progress in are running with more patience and growing as a pass blocker. While these are two areas that often prevent true freshman from consistently seeing the field, he did enough in both areas to step in and excel as a 19-year-old. Whaley looks poised to have a monstrous 2017 season and I believe he is a high-value devy asset.

Follow Kyle Francis on Twitter: @FranchiseKF

Originally published at on June 22, 2017.