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Football - Wed, May 10, 2017
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BARBOURVILLE, Ky. – When one door closes, another one opens. So, has been the case for Chandler Whittlesey.

The four-year starter has the page and now is playing professionally in Europe. Whittelsey signed with the Lura Bulls earlier in the spring and is now competing with them in Norway.

Whittlesey ended his Bulldog career as one of the program's top quarterbacks as he ranks fourth in all-time passing yards (6,127) and third in passing touchdowns (56). In addition, he ranks eighth on the all-time rushing list, and his 1,634 career rushing yards are the most by a quarterback in school history.

Still, things have not always gone according to plan for the now-former Union College quarterback. Case in point: Whittlesey's senior season.

The 5-foot-7 quarterback led the Bulldogs to a 3-1 overall start, including a 49-45 win over archrival Cumberlands (Ky.). However, the four-point win for the Brass Lantern proved to be costly as it was revealed he broke his wrist.

Playing in four games, Whittlesey was on pace for a career year as he completed 69-of-120 passes for 1,047 yards and 12 touchdowns and ran for 157 yards and two more scores. In spite of the injury and the shorten season, Whittlesey earned All-Mid-South Conference East First Team honors.

At first, the injury did not seem severe as Whittlesey thought he would only miss a couple of games. Yet, as the seventh game came around, he found out his season was done.

"I was in a funk, and I was thinking 'I guess this was my time.' I wasn't sure if I really ever wanted to play anymore," Whittlesey recounted. "The toughest part was accepting it and then being a positive leader to the team. I tried to make it to all the practices all the while I really wished I could be out there."

It was while attending a Cincinnati Bengals game on Nov. 20 when Whittlesey started getting the itch again.

"It was really the first time I had been to a game as a fan, and I always envisioned myself out there on the field," he said. "I knew I could still play. I knew I still got it. And that pushed me."

Prior to his senior season, Whittlesey had been talking with former offensive coordinator Marco Knorr about playing professionally in Germany. Knorr, who spent 11 seasons on the Bulldog staff, worked two years in NFL Europe and had connections overseas.

Following his injury, Whittlesey thought this dream might be gone. But after getting re-energized, he reached out to Knorr for assistance in continuing his playing career.

"Without hesitation, he got on it and put me in contact with Kyle Callahan," Whittlesey said.

Callahan, another Bulldog standout, has played in Germany for the past eight-plus years and was inducted in the Touchdown Europe Hall of Fame in December of 2016. Callahan helped Whittlesey go through the necessary steps to begin to be recruited by teams in Europe.

But before Whittlesey could enjoy success, disappointment showed up again.

Whittlesey had been contacted by a team in Germany and was told they wanted to sign him the day before Christmas. Two days later, he received a text saying they were going in a different direction and signed another quarterback.

"I was really looking forward to it, and Coach Knorr told me it would be a really good setup," Whittlesey said. "A contract was being drawn up and everything, but then they changed their minds."

The Columbus, Ga., native said another German team was showing interest when the Bulls came calling.

"A coach for the Bulls contacted me through the recruiting website," Whittlesey said. "They run a similar offense to what we did at Union, so I felt it was a good felt.

Located in Sandnes, Norway, the Lura Bulls compete in the European First Division. The season began on April 30, and the Bulls are currently 0-2.

Now signed, Whittlesey had the issue of wrapping up his schoolwork. In the final semester of his college course work, he had the foresight to load his schedule with as many online courses as possible.

"I really didn't want to sit in 15 hours of classes during my last semester at school, so I got in as many online classes as I could," he said.

Moving to Norway in March to being preseason workouts with the Bulls, Whittlesey was able coordinate with his professions a plan for him to finish everything online in order to graduate this May.

While his journey has had many twists and turns, Whittlesey would not have changed a thing.

"It's taught me to appreciate where you are at," he said.

"I'm really grateful for my time here (at Union) and being able to finish my four years here," Whittlesey concluded. "I'm proud to say I'm a Bulldog."