High School Insider Q&A: Knoch's Jonathan Whalen
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Despite being an undersized nose guard, Knoch's Jonathan Whalen helped lead the Knights to Heinz Field for the WPIAL Class AAA title game last year. Whalen earned all-conference first-team honors after clogging the middle and collecting 30 tackles, including four for a loss. He's undecided if he'll continue his football career in college but is looking forward to a successful senior season.
Q: Considering the Knights were WPIAL runners-up last year, do you think there's even more interest among the team's fans heading into this season — and more pressure to do well?
A: Last year was obviously a very special season. But any year, there's pressure to perform. Saxonburg is a really great football town. There are a lot of fathers who played who have sons playing now. Last year, we got a lot of exposure. But every year, the community rallies around us. Is there more pressure? We just go out and try to prepare for each week.
Q: Last year, you were a standout on the defensive line but didn't play offense. Will you be playing both ways this season?
A: I'm not starting on the offensive line, but I'll be worked in to give one of the two guards a rest. Both of those guys are starting both ways. It takes a couple of games to get into the swing of going both ways, but I'll be able to handle it. We condition well in camp.
Q: What's it like having your father, Frank Whalen, as Knoch's defensive coordinator?
A: I have a great relationship with my dad. We've spent a lot of time talking about games and techniques. I've watched a lot of film with him. But sometimes we just go out to eat or whatever. Sometimes, dads who coach give special treatment to their sons or are very hard. My dad hasn't done either. He's treated me like another person on the team.
Q: You're somewhat undersized for a Class AAA defensive lineman, being listed at 5-foot-11, 205 pounds on the roster. What attributes and skills help make you successful?
A: That would be my dream size (Whalen said he's actually 5-8, 180). At the college and pro level, it helps to be 6-6, 280 to be successful. In high school, I think it has a lot more to do with desire. When you're undersized, it has to do with quickness and strength. I can deal with being undersized.
Q: Outside of football, what other sports or hobbies are you interested in?
A: I don't play any other high school sports. I'm on the debate team. I love debate. And I'm on the chess team. Matt Miller, who also plays (football), and me started the chess team. And I love riding my mountain bike.
Q: What's the most memorable experience you've ever had outside of sports?
A: I have two adopted sisters from China (Abigail, 7, and Elisabeth, 5). When I was 10 or 11 years old, we went to China to get my oldest sister. I got to see some great landmarks. I was on the Great Wall of China and went to the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Q: What line of work do you hope to get into after school, and could you see yourself coaching like your father?
A: I would love to coach high school football at Knoch or wherever. As far as line of work, I've known since I was 5 years old that I wanted to be a fiction novel writer (Whalen scored a perfect 800 on the Critical Reading section of the SAT).
Paul Kogut is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-224-2696.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ferrante defense’s opening statement points to wife’s symptoms
- Student arrested at Shaler High School in roundup of 35 Allegheny County drug dealers
- Public’s help sought in identifying male remains found in Pittsburgh
- New movie studio coming to McKees Rocks
- Woman taken into custody for fatal stabbing of male companion in Duquesne
- Ex-judge in Philadelphia charged with bribery, conspiracy in sting case
- World’s 1st carbon capture power plant switches on in Canada
- Steelers’ defense on pace for fewest sacks in 16-game season
- Starkey: Century mark beckons for Ben
- Cops: Washington County military surplus store sold stolen items
- Corbett rips Wolf tax proposals during Hempfield campaign stop