David Wohlabaugh’s upbringing wasn’t like most, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
The 6-foot-6 inch 280-pound offensive tackle from Akron, Oh. signed with the University of Kentucky Wednesday morning to become the third member of his family to play Power Five football. Wohlabaugh will graduate high school this month and enroll at UK in January. An extraordinary accomplishment, it’s sort of routine in the Wohlabaugh family.
David’s older brother, Jack, started his college football career at Ohio State before transferring to Duke. After suffering season-ending injuries in consecutive seasons, he’ll return to Durham for one last ride in 2021.
“I just think it’s funny because he’s going into his sixth year of college,” the younger Wohlabaugh told KSR.
They each have a ways to go if the want to catch up with the leader of the clan. Syracuse product Dave Wohlabaugh was a nine-year NFL veteran that played with the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI, Drew Bledsoe’s loss to Brett Favre’s Green Bay Packers, before he signed a lucrative deal to join the Cleveland Browns in the first year of the franchise’s rebirth. That’s right, David Wohlabaugh’s Dad was Tim Couch’s center.
“I’ve actually never met him in person but he follows me on Twitter and stuff so I think that’s pretty cool,” Wohlabaugh said. “When my brother went on a visit to Kentucky when he was in the recruiting process, my Dad had Tim Couch come down and he was saying how funny it was because everyone goes crazy for him there. They said he was like the second coming of God or something like that because everyone loves him down in Kentucky in the Lexington area.”
The connections are eye-opening, but that’s not how this three-star recruit ended up in Lexington. Recruited by Vince Marrow and John Schlarman, Wohlabaugh opened the coaching staff’s eyes at a UK camp in the summer of 2019. Even though he had offers from Arizona State, Pitt, West Virginia and seemingly every school in the MAC, it only took a few months before Wohlabaugh was ready to commit in February of 2020.
“Me and my Dad talked all the time,” the offensive tackle said, “and I was just looking for a school that would give me both the best on-field football experience and outside of football. That whole thing and the coaching staff honestly, it just felt like a great group of guys doing whatever they can to be the best they can be.”
Throughout the recruiting process Wohlabaugh had the benefit of a strong support system to ensure that he made the right decision. His brother had to learn from his mistakes in recruiting the hard way.
“He would always tell me, ‘Make sure you pick the right school. Don’t try and go to the biggest possible school you can. Go to the school that fits you the most.’ He went to Ohio State originally and he eventually had to transfer out and now he’s at Duke. His advice was find the best people to surround yourself with.”
Jack isn’t the only Wohlabaugh handing out advice. Some might sympathize for a kid who has to get coached on the field and at home. David sees it as an opportunity to learn from someone who was once the highest-paid center in the NFL.
“He’s a hands-on Dad, for sure,” David told KSR. “I would watch film with my team on Saturday mornings, workout, then I would come home and watch the film with him again. He gets really into it with me, teaching me stuff. He’s really critical of my technique and stuff like that, which I love, just so I can be the best player I can be.”
Even though David cannot replicate that kind of relationship with his brother while away at college, Jack helps him in more than one way. David still has not reached the point where he can beat up his big brother.
“No, not yet. Trust me, everyday I work out I think about it because when we were younger he always picked on me,” David said. “The day is coming.”
If childhood vengeance isn’t enough to motivate the younger Wohlabaugh, all he has to do is look at his father’s accomplishments the walls of his family home.
“It inspires me honestly, everyday looking at all of the jerseys and stuff on the wall and the game balls or the awards he got, it inspired me to work harder. Obviously, it’s normal for me. I don’t know what else it would be like, but I still think it’s really cool.”
Football is a family affair in the Wohlabaugh family. He’ll always have their support, but now it’s up to David to take the next step in his development at the University of Kentucky.