Friday, April 3, 2009

Weaver steps into offensive line role on football team

Issue date: 4/3/09

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

Near the end of the third quarter of the football team's 38-28 win against Western Michigan last season, Rocky Weaver caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Antonio Brown.

But if Weaver wants celebrate with the football in the end zone this season, head coach Butch Jones will need to dig deep into his playbook.

Weaver, a sophomore, is in the process of transitioning from tight end to the offensive line this spring to plug the holes left by senior departures.

"It's been different," Weaver said. "At tight end, you can get away with more stuff. Here, you're playing against guys 50 pounds bigger than you."

As a freshman tight end last season, he played sparingly in 11 games, catching eight passes for 65 yards and one touchdown.

"I kind of knew it was going to happen eventually," he said of the switch.

Jones, who occasionally joked with Weaver about the move during his redshirt and freshman years, lost two senior starters on the line in All-MAC performer Andrew Hartline and Greg Wojt.

"He's done a great job of handling it," Jones said about Weaver. "Every day there's something new, but he's learning fundamentals and nuances that go with the position and I expect him to get better in the future.

"But anytime you have to replace two very talented football players like that, it's a process."

Redshirt freshman Jake Olson joins Weaver on the line this spring, leading Jones to give the offensive line a theme of "growing up."

"Every day there is a process of growing up and maturing," Jones said.

Juniors Jeff Maddux, Colin Miller and Allen Ollenburger will flank the freshmen and Olson said they are serving as the leaders of the group.

"We're all really close together and we all push each other to help each other out and do better," Olson said.

Recently, they have been hanging out together, watching film and going out to eat. Last weekend, the running backs and offensive lineman gathered at Miller's house for a cookout after practice.

Olson said Maddux is the biggest eater on the offensive line, and that it's rubbing off on the two youngsters, both of whom trying to adjust their weight accordingly to the position.

"When we go out to eat together, we actually push each other to eat more," he said.

Weaver said he's weighing in at about 250 pounds now, said he wants to get as high as he can on the scale before the season starts.

"Obviously, they both do have to put weight on to play the position," Jones said. "But they've been doing a great job at that and they need to continue to do so."

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