When one talks to Brandon Weaver, one would get the impression that the senior is, indeed, a quiet young man.
However, Weaver doesn’t need to do much talking — because it’s his actions that do all of the talking for him.
The dominating two-way standout, who starred on the offensive and defensive lines for the West Senators’ football program in 2017 en route to a breakout year, parlayed his success with the program into an opportunity to play football at the NCAA Division III level as Weaver inked with the Wilmington Quakers’ football program on Thursday afternoon in a signing ceremony that was held inside the halls of West High School in West Portsmouth and became the third lineman inside the program to earn an opportunity to play football at the collegiate level.
For Weaver, the opportunity to play at Wilmington, especially considering that fellow teammate and close friend Caleb Deaver will also suit up for the unit beginning with the 2018 season on forward, is a great honor.
“It’s an amazing feeling, especially with one of my friends (Caleb Deaver) going up there and playing,” Weaver said. “It should be fun.”
However, it’s an opportunity that Weaver, through his own hard work, has unquestionably earned. Need proof? Just ask Ben Johnson, who, without hesitation, said that the 6-1, 204 pound senior is likely the most improved player that he’s ever coached.
“From now on, Brandon is, in my mind, the example of what you can really do if you commit to the weight program in place and put in all of the hard work that’s necessary,” Johnson said. “He’s just a great kid, and I’m so proud of what he’s accomplished.”
Weaver, who played virtually every snap this season between the offensive and defensive lines, was an integral part to a unit that averaged 302.6 yards per contest on the offensive side of the football in 2017 as the senior teamed with Deaver, Cincinnati Christian University signee Jacob Hall, and others to set the tone.
Their efforts ultimately allowed the star trio of Josh Berry, Dylan Bradford, and Garrett Hurd to go off as the trio ultimately combined to run for 1,903 of the 2,261 yards that the Senators obtained on the ground in 2017, with Bradford adding 1,341 of the remaining 1,370 yards through the air on a 56 percent completion mark, as the Senators put together an impressive 38 offensive touchdowns on the scoreboard during the year — including 26 on the ground behind a strong 4.9 yards-per-carry mark as a team.
But as strong as Weaver was offensively, it was his defensive work that really set the senior apart from his peers. Overall, Weaver finished second on the unit in tackles, with 90, and tied fellow senior hand Jakeb Guilkey for the team lead with five sacks as both players lived in opposing backfields. West’s newest college football signee added approximately 20 tackles behind the line of scrimmage to set the tone for an Honorable Mention All-District selection, and a West unit that went 10-2 on the year — a big turnaround from the 2016 season, which featured a 3-7 mark.
“Brandon’s production was absolutely huge,” Johnson said. “That was a big part of our success last year. Brandon played both sides of the ball, and was able to show up and make plays, game-in and game-out.”
“It meant the world,” Weaver said of the success that the team, and himself, had in 2017. “It was just something that I always looked forward to growing up. I didn’t see a whole lot of playing time, but I put in the work, and it worked out great. I’ve found new brothers through the game of football. We’re a family down here. We’re always together and we’ve played together our entire lives.”
Success, however, is due to preparation. And that’s exactly what Weaver — and the 2017 West Senators — did.
“A big part of (the success) was the offseason program,” Weaver said. “There were a lot of guys that came in everyday and worked hard. It was really awesome to see.”
It also helps, however, that West has a strong staff. In addition to Johnson, former head coaches Dan McDavid and Todd Gilliland each serve on the staff, as do former West standouts Trevon Pendleton, Jerrod Pendleton, and Blaike Smith, who have been lauded for what they have brought to the table as young coaching standouts.
“They’re really good,” Weaver said. “They definitely weren’t easy on us, but they made us work hard, and it took us a long way. I’m fortunate to have been able to play for them.”
“It’s really about what the kids do,” Johnson said of the weight program. “We give them the opportunities, but they still have to come and put the work in. Brandon never missed an opportunity to work, and if the weight room was open, he was here. If we were doing agility drills or conditioning among other things, he took every opportunity, plus additional work, and just really turned himself into a player. At times, he was dominant on both sides of the line.”
At Wilmington, Weaver will have a chance to make an impact on the Quakers’ defensive line, with the coaching staff telling Weaver that defensive end, or a move to defensive tackle with added weight, are options for the incoming freshman.
“The coaching staff said that I’d be a good fit for defensive end right now, but that if I gained some weight, that I could also play some defensive tackle,” Weaver said. “It’s really wherever is the best fit for the team.”
“When a kid works that hard to obtain success, it just breeds more hunger to get to that desire of getting better and better on a daily basis,” Johnson said. “Now, that’s just part of his personality. I believe that he’s going to have a great career at Wilmington.”
With his senior year winding down, Weaver has joined his brother, Blaine — who starred on the basketball court and currently sits at the No. 1 singles slot for West on the tennis court — in the latter sport. Brandon has already developed a partnership with Nick Crabtree as the pair have entrenched themselves at the No. 1 doubles slot for Carolyn Callahan’s tennis program.
“It’s the first time that I’ve played tennis,” Weaver said. “I’m doing alright with it. It’s been fun.”
Like the sport of tennis right now, Brandon Weaver will face many new adventures in his life as the most important four years of his young life, to date, await. However, Johnson knows that Weaver, with the resiliency that he showed during his football career, can ace the tests — both on the football field and in the classroom — that await him.
“You can’t necessarily replace a guy like Brandon, but like any other school, we’re always in that boat, so we’ll have to step up and fill the void that he leaves behind,” Johnson said. “I just hope that he, first of all, goes and gets a great education. If football works out for him, that’s just going to be a bonus. I believe that he has all the potential in the world to succeed, no matter what he ends up doing. I just wish him all the best.”
The credit to much of that resiliency, however, goes to Weaver’s family and friends for supporting him through his journey as a young man.
“They’ve always been a big part of my life,” Weaver said. “They’ve just supported me as far as taking me to weightlifting and supporting me as far as my success has been concerned.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT