From Stanford walk-on to Cincinnati Bengals' draft pick, Cardinal senior wide receiver Ryan Whalen has reached the peak.
Whalen was taken by the Bengals with the second pick in the sixth round (167th overall) during Saturday's NFL Draft.
Whalen was the first Stanford wide receiver drafted since Teyo Johnson was taken in the second of the 2003 draft by the Oakland Raiders.
Whalen joins Sione Fua (Carolina Panthers; 3rd Round), Owen Marecic (Cleveland Browns; 4th) and Richard Sherman (Seattle Seahawks; 5th) to give Stanford its highest number of draft selections since 2006.
Whalen, who served as one of the team's tri-captains this past season along with Marecic and Fua, earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors after finishing the season as Stanford's second leading receiver with 39 receptions for 415 yards and two touchdowns, despite missing two games with injury.
Whalen, who originally made the team as a walk-on in 2007 before working his way into scholarship status, led Stanford in receiving in 2008 and 2009.
He earned honorable mention all-conference honors as a junior after catching 57 passes for 926 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 16.2 yards per reception and 71.2 receiving yards per game, fifth best in the Pac-10.
He finished his Stanford career with 138 receptions for 1,860 yards and seven touchdowns.
Sherman, who made the transition from wide receiver to cornerback prior to the 2009 season, earned honorable mention Pac-10 honors this past season after totaling 50 tackles and four interceptions from his left cornerback position. He keyed a much-improved Stanford secondary that finished third in the Pac-10 in passing defense (202.0) and second in interceptions (18).
In 25 career games in the secondary, Sherman totaled 112 tackles and six interceptions, including one for touchdown.
He was one of Stanford's top receiving threats for his first three years before transitioning to the secondary during spring drills prior to the 2009 season. As a freshman in 2006, he led the team in receptions (34), receiving yards (581) and tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions (3).
Sherman continued to blossom as one of the Pac-10's top young receivers in 2007, as he led the Cardinal in receiving yards (651) for the second straight season and ranked second on the squad behind Mark Bradford with 39 receptions.
He was granted a medical redshirt year in 2008 after he being limited to four games due to injury.
One of Stanford's tri-captains, Marecic earned All-America recognition by the American Football Coaches Association as an all-purpose player last season. He also garnered first team All-Pac-10 selection as a running back and earned honorable mention conference marks as a linebacker. He also finished 10th in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
The recipient of the inaugural Paul Hornung Award honoring the most versatile player in college football, Marecic started at both fullback and inside linebacker for the Cardinal as a senior. He finished as the team's fifth leading tackler with 51 stops and also had 5.5 tackles-for-loss, two sacks and two interceptions.
One of the top blocking fullbacks in the nation, Marecic rushed 23 times for 46 yards and a career high five touchdowns.
He was on the field for an average of 110 plays a game, the equivalent of two seasons for most players.
Fua becomes the first Stanford defensive lineman to be drafted in the first three rounds since defensive tackle Willie Howard was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round in 2001.
Fua earned second team All-Pac-10 honors last season, starting all 13 games at the nose tackle position. He finished the year with 23 total tackles, including 6.0 for loss. He also had 4.5 sacks on the year, which tied for third on the squad with Thomas Keiser.