Commentary

Whitmer quietly stands out

Illinois commit isn't the flashiest prospect, but he finds a way to stand out from the pack

Originally Published: July 21, 2009
By Jc Shurburtt | Scouts Inc.

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. -- Robert Weiner was out to prove to some of his players that it didn't take much for him to spot top-shelf talent.

"We were in Champaign at Illinois' camp and one of my players was joking around with me telling me I couldn't spot the top players," said Weiner, the head football coach at Tampa's Plant High and one of the top prep quarterback coaches in the Southeast. "I told him I could tell in two throws."

So Weiner watched an undersized quarterback with a gun sling it twice and said "that's the one, right there."

After the camp ended, Weiner, in front of his players, asked one of the Illinois coaches who stood out at quarterback.

[+] EnlargeChandler Whitmer
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comChandler Whitmer's stock has risen steadily this summer.
"That's the one, right there."

That was the beginning of the emergence of Elite 11 quarterback Chandler Whitmer (Downer's Grove, Ill./South). The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder has seen his stock consistently rise at various camps, including the Elite 11 workout in Orlando during the spring.

"I have been mentoring him ever since [that camp]," Weiner said. "I got to talking with him and I got to know his family real well."

Weiner, who was invited out to the Elite 11 this week as a guest of the Whitmer family, coached Whitmer during a 7-on-7 camp this summer.

"We've been down to Tampa a couple of times," Mike Whitmer, Chandler's father, said. "[Weiner] has been a real asset to Chandler."

Weiner's track record in recent years has been outstanding. Although Plant High grad Robert Marve transferred to Purdue from Miami (Fla.), he still saw time and showed some promise as a redshirt freshman with the Hurricanes. Another Weiner product, Aaron Murray, was an Elite 11 selection last year before heading to the University of Georgia, where he will compete for playing time this season behind current starter Joe Cox.

"[Weiner] has been very important," Chandler Whitmer said. "He's helped me with everything from recruiting to life. Anything I want to talk to him about, he's there. He's a great coach and I appreciate all of the things that he has done for me."

Next season, Weiner will have another protégé in the Big Ten besides Marve. Whitmer verbally committed to play for the Fighting Illini on May 5.

"I just wanted to work hard," Whitmer said. "I knew that if I put all of my faith in God that he would take care of everything else. I've put in the extra work being a smaller guy, I have to do everything right."

Whitmer and his family moved to the Chicago suburbs two years ago from Marietta, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta.

"Growing up in Georgia, I never dreamed I would be going to play at Illinois," Whitmer said. "But when I met Ron Zook and went over there, you feel like you are at home."

That atmosphere also appealed to his parents.

"I love the Illinois family," Mike Whitmer said. "It's a family atmosphere and I like that about it. They have had their ups and downs, but they are definitely on their way back."

Illinois saw offensive coordinator Mike Locksley depart to take over New Mexico's program during the offseason and brought in Mike Schultz from TCU to run his system, something that has Chandler Whitmer excited.

"[Schultz] told me they are going to run the wide-open spread, so I am looking forward to going in there and doing that," he said.

He has performed well at the Elite 11. On Monday, he earned the opportunity to wear the gold jersey, which is given to the quarterback who wins the Golden Gun Accuracy Challenge, which is held at the end of each session. On Tuesday, San Diego State commit Tyler Bray took it from him.

"It definitely puts a target on your back," Whitmer said.

That's something Whitmer should get used to as people are definitely noticing him now.

Quick Hits From Day 2

• Bray won the accuracy challenge and had an excellent day of work. He showed off a big arm and looked more comfortable, as most of the prospects do after they figure out what is expected of them in drills.

• Penn State commit Robert Bolden (Orchard Lake, Mich./Saint Mary's) has surprised many at the camp. It's obvious what he can do with his legs when you watch him on film, but he can throw it.

• Michigan commit Devin Gardner (Inkster, Mich./Inkster) has also surprised many. His hustle, leadership and athleticism add up to a tremendous maturity that will help him compete early for playing time in Ann Arbor. He was a notch behind Bolden throwing it, but still has a strong arm and excellent size.

Phillip Sims (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Smith) continued to throw it well. The Alabama commit wouldn't look like a quarterback if you saw him walking down the street, but once he starts tossing the ball around it's pretty obvious.

• Washington commit Nick Montana (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) continues to consistently throw the ball with accuracy. He has a good frame and will fill out once he gets to college. The Washington commit is an excellent fit for what the Huskies likely are going to try to do on offense under Steve Sarkisian.

Jake Heaps (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) continued to play consistently on the second day. Most believe he is the perfect fit for what he is going to be doing in college at BYU.

JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at jcsespn@aol.com.

ALSO SEE