Super Mario Part Two

9 years 5 months 1 week ago November 19, 2007 Nov 19, 2007 Monday, November 19 2007 Monday, November 19, 2007 12:11:46 AM CST in Sports
loading

For former Mizzou running back Mario Whitney, it was the off the field adjustments that he struggled to make.

It didn't take former prep phenom Mario Whitney long to realize the differences between high school and division one football.

"Just the demand. You have no time to yourself. It's a 40-hour a week job. You have no time to yourself and I wasn't ready for that at 18-19 years old," he said.

Missouri running back coach Brian Jones explained what is required of MU football players.

"We ask our players to jump through lots of hoops. In terms of football-wise, academically, socially and so on. We ask them to toe the line there and it took him a while to adjust to all those situations," Jones said.

Mario worked through summer camp and contributed 52 total yards in the Tigers season opening wins against Illinois and Ball State. But a separated shoulder in the game against Bowling Green derailed his freshman season, and soon afterwards, he considered leaving Columbia.

"He would say, 'Mom, it's not like I thought it would be.' Then he got the feeling that, 'They don't really care about me,'" said Carla Whitney, Mario's mother.

"Physically I had all the tools, but emotionally and mentally I wasn't ready for it. I was still a high school kid," said Mario.

His final decision was to leave Mizzou, with his career stats at five carries for seven yards.

"I just kind of figured that life would keep giving me these breaks here and there, here and there, here and there and it just didn't happen," Mario said.

Mario returned home to Jackson for a year before attending Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. He left before ever officially enrolling at Scottsdale to play football at Garden City Community college in Kansas. After rushing for more than 100 yards in his first game, he tore an ankle ligament and broke two ribs.

Mario returned to Columbia to live with a couple of former high school teammates. He took a job dealing blackjack at the Isle of Capri Casino in Boonville, but football was never far from his mind.

"It definitely crossed my mind whenever I had to deal to some of the coaches at the casino. That defintely crossed my mind. I sat there and talked to them. But I always think that I could have played," Mario said.

Carla noted sadness in her son when he wasn't playing football. 

"I could tell he was depressed and I was like, 'Mario, you're young, it's not over,'" she said.

It wasn't over. Mario got another chance at football with a scholarship from William Penn University, A small NAIA school in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

"I told my son, nobody gets three full rides to school. I said, 'You are blessed. I'm telling you that's just the favor of God.' So I said, 'You have to take advantage of this third chance,'"Carla said.

And he has taken advantage, rushing for nearly 100 yards per game and eleven touchdowns in just eight games. He also earned second team All-Midwest Conference honors.

"He doesn't take his athletic ability for granted and that means a lot to us because we've had players before that have had a lot of athletic ability that ended up not doing anything because they didn't work very hard. But that's not the case with Mario and it's going to continue to make him a great player," William Penn Coach Todd Hafner said.

While Mario's football career has taken him all across the country, he's finally found his place in Oskaloosa. And it's a homecoming of sorts, playing his home games at Oskaloosa high school, the home of the Indians.

"This isn't a punishment, this place is not a punishment. It's definitely not D-1, but those people in the stands, I'll see them in town and they'll treat me like their best friend," Mario said.

"He's more determined now than he ever has been. Maybe because he's older and he knows all the mistakes he made before, but that makes him better. Because now he's not just someone out there just playing, he's out there with a goal in mind that I want to get where I want to go," Carla said.

He wants to play in the NFL, a dream he is confident will be fulfilled. He still has unfinished business at William Penn.

"I would like to win the NAIA player of the year. That's my goal, next year as a senior to win the NAIA player of the year," Mario said.

Not quite the Heisman, but still quite an accomplishment for Super Mario. He still has one year of eligibility left and is on pace to graduate next year with a degree in physical fitness.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Despite non-ideal weather conditions, people gathered at MU Saturday afternoon as a part of a nationwide climate change... More >>
1 hour ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 4:46:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Ever wonder what to do with your unused prescription drugs? The annual 'Drug Take Back Day' helps... More >>
2 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 3:37:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Police officers responded to an armed robbery at Check Into Cash Saturday afternoon. According to a release... More >>
3 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 3:27:00 PM CDT in News
MID-MISSOURI - Flooding caused road closures on Saturday. KOMU 8 News viewers shared photos and videos of what they saw.... More >>
3 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 2:31:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The Boone County Office of Emergency Management has reported numerous road closures due to flooding Saturday. ... More >>
4 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 1:32:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Gov. Eric Greitens has agreed to pay a penalty to the state Ethics Commission for failing... More >>
7 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 10:50:22 AM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Gov. Eric Greitens has bought a lakeside house in a resort community west of St. Louis.... More >>
9 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 9:14:38 AM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The maternal grandmother of a 7-year-old Kansas boy whose remains were found in a pigsty... More >>
9 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 9:09:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - A free carnival-style event Saturday aims to combine fun with education about childhood safety and accident prevention. The... More >>
10 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 7:44:00 AM CDT in News
FULTON – Equestrian students at William Woods University have the unique opportunity to learn from a living legend April 28-30.... More >>
12 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 5:53:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - According to a Columbia Police Department press release, officers arrested a suspect wanted by the St. Louis Police... More >>
14 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 4:12:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Close to 25 environmental activists from mid-Missouri boarded a bus bound for Washington, D.C. Friday afternoon headed to... More >>
22 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 7:35:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - The Missouri Department of Public Safety is preparing to respond to potential dangerous flooding in the forecast beginning... More >>
23 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 7:20:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY - As prom season begins, the Jefferson City Police Department will start sending out more officers to monitor... More >>
23 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 7:01:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Fatal accidents involving drugged driving have surpassed those involving drunk driving, according to a new study from... More >>
1 day ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 5:36:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Thousands of workers in St. Louis are preparing to see a jump in pay now that... More >>
1 day ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 4:27:00 PM CDT in News
FULTON - Autopsy results confirmed the body found by the Fulton Police Department Monday is 31-year-old Carl L. DeBrodie, the... More >>
1 day ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 3:51:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Some Columbia utility customers are complaining because of recent past due notices sent out for the month of... More >>
1 day ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 3:29:00 PM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 48°
7pm 57°
8pm 56°
9pm 55°
10pm 56°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

6:00p
KOMU 8 News @ 6
6:30p
Wheel of Fortune
7:00p
2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
6:00p
Cheaters
7:00p
Family Guy
7:30p
Family Guy

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
7:00p
Family Guy
7:30p
Family Guy
8:00p
Bob's Burgers
8:30p
Bob's Burgers
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld