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Chat Reel: James Whalen

Kentucky TE open to reuniting with Cleveland's Couch

Posted: Friday April 14, 2000 07:02 PM

CNNSI Host: Welcome to today's NFL Draft chat with Kentucky's James Whalen. Welcome James, thanks for joining us.
James Whalen: Thank you, I appreciate it.

From Greg in Henderson, Ky.: From starting out as a walk on, did you ever think that you could perform at the next level or was it something you always believed in?
James Whalen: I think I always believed it, but it was wishful thinking at the time. It hit me last year when we were playing Louisville and I scored the first TD and Tim Couch came over to me and said "you'll make a helluva NFL Player" and it just struck me then.

From Jerry in Augusta, Ga.: Have you been in contact with Tim Couch concerning his advice on the whole draft experience?
James Whalen: Most definitely. I talk to him on a regular basis and I talked to him last night. Tim has been through this process and he knows what to expect. I'm very grateful for his help. My work is done, he really did a good job of pointing that out and not to worry about what happens.

From Guest: What are you doing to take care of your nerves?
James Whalen: Talked to my friends and keep on my daily schedule. Play a little golf, work out - that kind of stuff. Try not to have too much free time to start thinking.

From Danny in Louisville: An obvious question -- how's the arm and how has it affected your predraft performance?
James Whalen: I dislocated my elbow and had to take a couple months off the bench press, which can't help you - obviously. But it's real to close to 100% now. We moving ahead now and it looks good. I'm lucky I didn't do any serious damage.

From K.C. Jones in Lexington Ky.: James -- We love you down here in Kentucky! I have heard some rumors that you may end up with the Cleveland Browns. I know personally that you would be any true UK fan's dream. Do you think that you would enjoy catching passes from Tim again? Does Cleveland seem interested?
James Whalen: Who wouldn't be interested in catching balls with Tim? I'm lucky to have a good rapport with him - on and off the field. Cleveland is a great spot to be - a good organization that's run with integrity. Yes, they are interested. I talked to their OC this morning. Now it's just kind of a wait and see.

From Guest: Hello James, Describe what it was like playing in the SEC Conference and was it good preparation for the quality of opponents you will face as an NFL Player?
James Whalen: If you look at the players in the NFL and the caliber that they are, they probably came from the SEC. Tim Couch, Jevon Kearse, Peyton Manning... I believe it's the best conference with the best football in the world. Having the ability to play with and against these great players has done nothing but prepare me mentally and physically.

From Guest: James -- I'm a big fan. If you could go to any team, where would you want to go? Have any of those teams shown interest?
James Whalen: It really doesn't matter. I don't have a preference of a city or a team. I'm just fortunate to be in the situation I'm in. I'm very lucky. One half of one percent of high school football players make it to the NFL. I'm lucky to be at that level. I'm just looking forward to the opportunity.

CNNSI Host: What teams have shown interest?
James Whalen: Dallas, Cleveland, San Francisco, Miami, Oakland, New England, Jacksonville, Denver - a lot of a teams that need a tight end that can stretch the field.

From Luigi in Danbury, Conn.: Do you think it's easier coming into the draft without the spotlight that other players such as Peter Warrick has?
James Whalen: Yes and no. Yes, because you don't have to deal with constant attention. But no, because there's some bitterness and you look at some players that are supposed to be drafted in the first round that you've played well against and you wonder. At the same time I'm just still very thankful to be in the situation I'm in. Four years nobody wanted me except one person in the state of Kentucky. But it just takes one.

From Guest: How will you be celebrating draft day?
James Whalen: Disappearing. *laughs* I think I'm just going to my parents house to relax. Without them I wouldn't be where I am today and I want to share the day with them.

From Guest: What players did you you want to be like when you were younger?
James Whalen: Fred Biletnikoff, Steve Largent, Jerry Rice. I remember watching these players and they were so graceful. They had such great hands. I love a player that's not scared to take a hit to make a catch. That's kind of what I do, I suppose.

From Guest: It's a pretty big jump from scraping together enough money in college for a pizza to earning hundreds of thousands of dollars. Any big purchases planned after the pay day?
James Whalen: Nope. I'm giving all of my money to my parents, I suppose. My father is a logistics genius - he's good with money. I'd still live to a little bit 10 years frm now and he'll help me invest it.

CNNSI Host: That's all the time we have for today. Thanks for joining us, James. Good Luck in the draft.
James Whalen: Thank you, I appreicate it.

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