HOWLAND - David Brian Whisler isn't a football player, but if he was, he would soon be joining the Southeastern Conference.
Whisler is a wrestler for Howland High School - and a darn good one at that - and the senior two-time state placer has always dreamed of competing at the highest level.
He'll get his chance next year.
Whisler made a verbal commitment to the University of Maryland earlier this week. The Terrapins will compete in the Big Ten Conference starting this season after years of being in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Big Ten has won the NCAA Wrestling Championships eight straight seasons, with Penn State claiming the last four. In other words ...
"The Big Ten is more dominant in wrestling than the SEC is in football," said Whisler, the No. 16-ranked wrestler in the nation at his weight class. "Since I was little, one of my goals has always been to wrestle in the Big Ten. Division I, especially, but the Big Ten was another big thing."
He'll get his chance thanks in part to a resume that becomes more impressive each year.
Aside from owning multiple records at Howland - a school with a rich tradition of successful wrestling - Whisler has won three freestyle state titles. He's a three-time Eastern Ohio Wrestling League champion, a three-time sectional champ, he placed fourth at the State Wrestling Championships as a sophomore and was seventh at 152 pounds last year.
More recently, he placed seventh at the ASICS/Vaughan Junior and Cadet National Championships in Fargo, N.D. - arguably the toughest amateur tournament in the United States of America. Prior to that, he went a perfect 9-0 and was named an All-American at the 2014 Disney Duals, an event where his team (known as the Young Guns) was crowned national champions.
As nice as they are, those accolades aren't what Howland coach Bill Beasom believes led to Whisler earning a Big Ten scholarship.
"What puts him above everyone else is his work ethic and what he stands for," Beasom said. "His hard work and dedication to the sport are why he's where he's at now. That, and two great parents."
Whisler chose Maryland over Kent, North Carolina State, Old Dominion, Eastern Michigan, Bucknell, American University and Appalachian State. The Terrapins won four of the last six ACC titles.
Whisler said Maryland coach Kerry McCoy pursued him since he was a freshman and his visit to the university went great.
"That was actually one of the big things is that they've been after me since I was a freshman," Whisler said. "And Right I went to Maryland, I had one of those gut feelings, and up to this point in my life, my gut feelings have usually been right, so I'm gonna trust it. I just kind of fell in love with it right there. The coaches are awesome, the kids are awesome, the school, the campus - it's great."
Now that this decision is over, Whisler has his sights set on his senior season. He still hasn't accomplished his main goal, Beasom said.
"Some people can be complacent after they've already placed twice in the state," he said. "He said today that, 'Ultimately, I haven't reached my main goal yet, and that's to win a state title.' That's the goal, and he's going to work hard for that."
And when Whisler's time at Howland is over, Beasom - a close friend of Whisler's - has no doubts about his future with the Terrapins.
"I definitely believe he will be a great college wrestler," Beasom said. "He doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, he doesn't party. He works out pretty much 365 days out of the year.
"His dream since he started working and started going to all these camps ... his goal was to wrestle in the Big Ten. He did everything he could to get to that goal, and it's great that now it's a reality. It just goes to show that hard work and dedication will help you reach your goals."