Introduction of Tim Whelan, presented by Ryan McDonald, Class of 2019 and Football Team Member
Quick, durable and consistent, Tufts University’s Tim Whelan was the best small college running back in New England for three seasons from 1974-76. Arguably, he was one of the best backs regardless of division at the time. From Natick, Massachusetts, Whelan put his hometown on the football map before local legend Doug Flutie.
Tim played during an era when defense dominated college football, and he was a “marked man” as his team’s primary weapon in an “I formation.” Nevertheless, Tim managed to average 125 yards rushing and better than a touchdown per game for his career.
“Tim is a major college talent with a major college attitude,” his coach Paul Pawlak said at the time. “He is as quick as any running back I have ever seen, and he runs inside as hard as Ed Marinaro did at Cornell when I was coaching there.”
As a senior in 1976, Tim became Tufts’ first Small College All-American in 42 years. He then became the first small college division player to win the prestigious George “Bulger” Lowe Award as New England’s best college football player across all divisions. And if that weren’t enough, he also received the Harry Agganis Award as the best senior player in New England for all divisions that season.
With 1,016 yards as a junior, Tim had recorded the first 1,000-yard season in Tufts history. He scored eight touchdowns that year – 42 percent of the team’s offense - and earned All-ECAC and All-New England accolades.
Tim surpassed those marks during his senior season in 1976. He broke his own rushing record by gaining 1,023 yards in 8 games. He scored 62 of the team’s 105 points that season, producing almost 60-percent of the offense. After records of 2-6 and 3-5 in the previous two seasons, Tufts Football finished 6-2 that year for its best season since 1969. That success laid the groundwork for a Tufts program that would earn one of its three undefeated seasons in 1979.
Since his playing days ended, Tim has continued his family’s legacy of giving back to football. Tim has been President of the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston, and he is currently the Chairman of the awards dinner and the awards selection committee.
Hailing from a family rich in football tradition, Tim Whelan dominated his era as a college football player, and Tufts University is extremely proud to honor him here tonight.