Duffy Daugherty Football Building
East Lansing, MI
There was no doubt that QB Messiah deWeaver was a prized catch for Mark Dantonio with his best ever recruiting class in 2016. The young man willed the class to greatness often logging as much time texting and calling potential commitments to join him in East Lansing.
Long before he enrolled early in January deWeaver’s impact was felt around Spartan football in amazing ways. Returning players privately praised their new teammate for being humble, working hard, and not coming in with the attitude of the next great QB. For deWeaver it was just trying to be a great Spartan.
Let there be no doubt that deWeaver is a special young man. That said, playing QB in the complicated NFL type offense of the Spartan football program is not easy; something Dantonio addressed this week when asked about developing a young QB.
“I think it is always about decision making and then the ability to create when things break down. You can’t make a lot of mistakes at that position. You have to control everyone else and you have to lead on the field. You have to get everything started, even if it is a pure running play and obviously execution and decision making and then creativity.”
It has been said that playing offensive line and quarterback for Mark Dantonio as a true freshman is nearly impossible. No QB has done it as of yet while a true freshman, and only one offensive lineman in Brian Allen.
So are there benefits to Messiah getting here early in January rather than waiting to show up until summer with the majority of his class?
Dantonio addressed that saying, “At least you will have a foundation when you come to fall camp. I think that when guys come in early they are experiencing certain things. When guys come in without a foundation it is very difficult in the summer.”
So when I caught up with deWeaver after practice this week it was fun to catch him in his usual warm mood. Watching practice that day I had noticed him make a mistake. That isn’t a big deal in football, it happens every day to everyone. I wanted to see just three weeks into his college career how the young perfectionist took it.
I started by just asking how it feels to finally be playing football for the Spartans. “It feels good being out here and having fun with the guys and being back playing football again.”
I then had to ask him about turning the wrong way on a play and QB Coach Brad Salem having to show him his error. The perfectionist came through in the Spartans young signal caller immediately as his larger than life smile flashed across his face and he reminisced of the mistake saying, “As soon as I did it, I knew that I did wrong. That was my first time messing up a play like that, it was funny. I knew that he was going to rip me for that, I just looked at him and said it was my fault.”
What is rare in many high profile athletes is that deWeaver wants the coaching. Like a hungry person after a donut he will take the coaching from anywhere he can get it. He is a perfectionist. He has a rare God given talent that the youngster is driven to see reach its full potential and he voiced that to me.
“These coaches are all trying to make me better. I knew that coming in, I was young and I was going to make mistakes like that. I love coaching. I can take coaching. When I was younger, I was coached that way. I got yelled at and I am used to it by now.
So how is he processing all the information that Tyler O’Connor, Damion Terry, & Brian Lewerke already know? “Playing quarterback is a lot of information every day. Every day there is a new install and a new set of plays. It is a lot of information and once I get on the field, I will know it. It’s just fun to me, making plays, playing football is just fun.”
While most stars of deWeaver’s talents want to jump to the NFL after three years, deWeaver knows that this is a marathon, not a sprint. He is about today, the team, and letting the rest happen.
I had to ask him if he can see why redshirting can be such a help for a young man and to my surprise, simply three weeks into his college career, he did. Mature beyond his years, he demonstrated that when talking about a redshirt.
“I definitely see how redshirting a year benefits. I’ve been here playing spring football for three weeks and I’ve learned so much in just three weeks. I’m like O.K. I see how a whole year can help somebody so much. This playbook is a big playbook, a pro style playbook definitely.”
As one of the chief architects of Dantonio’s prized 2016 recruiting class, is Messiah still working the phones for this next class?
Again he flashed his grin and said, “I talk to a couple of guys. I’m the old guy now. I feel like I was the young guy yesterday, but I am here playing football now. I am watching. “
It is refreshing to see this young star’s humility and desire to be taught. It is refreshing. He will wait his turn, but nothing has dampened the expectations on this star and nothing should. He is a great young man, who is a super football player indeed. How nice is it that he has the character part down, before the playbook.