Rode: Notre Dame Cougars star lineman makes waves

Jacob Weller has all the attributes to take his football career as far as he wants.

At six-foot-five, 320-pounds the Notre Dame Cougars star lineman has already caught the attention of provincial and post-secondary coaches.

The 17-year-old, Grade 11 student has been named to the Team Alberta U18 squad on the offensive line for the second year in a row and has had talks with several university coaches.

Making the team as a 16-year-old last season was a bit of a surprise, says Weller.

“Mainly because I was so young,” he said. “This year I was comfortable, but it’s still exciting.”

Weller enjoys the fact the University of Alberta Golden Bears head coach is with the staff.

“I like working with him and he knows what I can do,” he said, adding he’ll look at the Bears once he graduates high school.

“It’s not for sure, but it’s one of my main options.”

Weller was born and raised in Sylvan Lake and tried a number of sports such as hockey, soccer and baseball before settling on football.

“I didn’t enjoy those other sports as much,” he said. “I did play lacrosse for a couple of years, but wanted to focus on football.

“Even football I wasn’t sure about in the beginning as I wasn’t the most athletic kid. But after playing I realized that was my sport and went from there.”

Jacob played atom, peewee and one year of bantam in Sylvan Lake before switching to Red Deer, although he still lives in Sylvan Lake. He took his second year of bantam with the Cougars then made an easy transition to the senior team.

Weller has been on the defensive and offensive lines since making the switch in bantam.

“At the start I played a number of positions as I was a bit of a skinny kid,” he said. “That’s when I realized if I wanted to play provincially I needed to put some weight on.”

And he did it the right way. Not just eating his way into the 300s, but working in the weight room and with a trainer.

“It’s a matter of having meal plans and eating healthy,” he said. “I also spent tons of time in the gym. I went to a number of places in Red Deer until I found one I liked and started working with trainer Bernice Fuss.”

Jacob plays on both sides of the ball, but enjoys the offensive line, playing both tackle and guard.

“I like the technique. I’m more comfortable there … I just kind of fell in love with it.”

And he enjoys the pass blocking.

Making the provincial U18 squad means that Weller won’t have much time off. Not only does he play with the high school, but with the midget Prairie Fire.

“It’s mainly football year-round, but that’s fine, I enjoy it.”

Weller is looking down the road and playing at university, but being a Canadian and an offensive lineman he can’t count out the CFL.

“I didn’t really think of that until I was talking with the UBC coach and he mentioned it,” said Weller. “It’s something to think about and with the number of players coming out of Canadian university it means I don’t have to look at the States.”

Jacob will take kinesiology or criminology, both of which he can take at the U of A.

And while he’ll prepare for university next spring, he’ll also try his hand at coaching.

“I hope to coach with the midget program as my brother (Taylor) will be playing.”

* This is the third of three columns on Red Deer high school players on the Team Alberta U16 and U18 teams.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at drode@reddeeradvocate.com

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