News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

August 3, 2013

Camp Scene: ‘The Griffer’ ready to team again with Luck

ANDERSON — “The Griffer.”

That’s how Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck refers to second-year wide receiver and former college teammate Griff Whalen. The pair of an extensive history together, dating all the way back to their freshman year at Stanford.

Both were members of the Cardinal scout team as freshman, although Luck was the heavily recruited 6-foot-4 hotshot passer from Houston, Texas, and Whalen was the unheralded 5-11 walk-on from Sylvania, Ohio. Both, however, ended up having outstanding careers at the Pac-12 school.

Now, a year removed from college, both are still together. Luck was Indianapolis’ top pick in the 2012 NFL draft while Whalen was one of several undrafted free agents signed by the team the same year.

Ironically, heading into the 2013 campaign, both are poised to be integral parts of a retooled Indianapolis offense. Luck is coming off an outstanding rookie season. Whalen missed all of last year with a foot injury.

But through the first week of training camp, the tandem is off to an exceptionally good start. Luck isn’t a surprise.

Now healthy, Whalen has opened more than a few eyes among the team’s coaching staff.

“You know what, we always talk to everybody about becoming necessary and he is one of those guys that is becoming necessary. Make yourself necessary. He is one of those guys that from a special-teams standpoint, No. 1, he can do a lot of things for you,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said earlier this week.

“And then No. 2, he knows every position as far as wide-receiver positions go. I don’t know if he ever drops a pass, if any. He is very, very reliable. He is no different than Wes Welker in the early stages, [Julian) Edelman, Austin Collie, those type of guys. He is just a reliable guy. He studies his craft. He’s a gym rat. He’s here all the time, he’s working, he knows what to do, he doesn’t make mental mistakes. It’s going to be really hard to get rid of a guy like that. He is going to make it hard on us to try to get rid of him. He is doing a great job.”

Luck, for one, wasn’t shocked by Pagano’s comments. He’s heard them all before.

“[Whalen has] always surprised people. I remember [him] coming in as a freshman, as a walk-on. We thought we had the best scout team in America because [I’d] sort of throw the ball up to Griff and he would go run and catch it. He’s always surprised people. He ended up earning a scholarship. He’s just a good, solid, steady guy and he’s working his butt off. So it’s good.”

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