The first year at Ohio State for Mike Weber was turbulent, to say the least. The former four-star running back hails from Detroit, Michigan, in the heart of Wolverine country. Before he was the Buckeyes’ next big running back, he was Michigan’s.
Weber decommitted from Michigan and then committed to OSU in 2015. An unforgivable sin, the news wasn’t taken kindly by Wolverine fans. They scurried to the internet and message boards, calling Weber a traitor and wished animosity on his future. Eventually, he looked to make Ohio State his home and his future, but conflicting situations arose.
Three days after he signed his Letter of Intent with Ohio State, running back coach Stan Drayton took a job with the Chicago Bears. This left Weber feeling betrayed and upset because Drayton was one of the predominant coaches who persuaded him to leave his home state and come to Columbus.
Rumors and speculation swirled around Weber as many thought he would transfer, while others were concerned this situation would turn virulent for the program. Two years later, those concerns have been put to rest as Weber has grown as a player and a person.
“He’s growing up. I’ve said that all along, and every time there’s a little bit more of a growth process going on,” running backs coach Tony Alford said. “He’s a real dude. He’s fun to work with. He’s a much better ‘pro’ now than he was before as far as how he is handling his business. His approach to the game, his approach to how he takes care of his body, his approach to the younger players in our room as far as trying to help them, it’s all changed. Some guys are like that immediately, and some guys it takes a little longer. It’s a maturation process. Me, I’m the type of guy that I want it right now. If I don’t get it right now I get tensed up, but he’s coming along really well.”
Under the tutelage of Ezekiel Elliott, Weber got to learn from the first-round NFL draft pick while redshirting. Urban Meyer has stated many times that the running back position is the Cadillac of football, so when it was Weber’s turn to run the ball last season, it was a bit stressful for him. He admitted to failing at times because of inexperience and nerves.
“That came with nerves, not knowing the college game speed and a whole bunch of things,” Weber said. “Things should be a lot different this season.”
While Weber cited nerves as reasons for struggling, it didn’t often show on the stat line. In 2016, Weber rushed for 1,096 yards, nine touchdowns, and also played a role in beating That Team Up North. He attributed this success to learning the game, and not just at his position, but the positions around him.
“I feel a lot different actually,” he said. “I know the game more. I’m starting to learn what the receivers are doing, what the tight ends are doing, and slowing the game down a little bit and I’ll keep going from there.”
He is entering his redshirt sophomore year with a lot of promise and praise from his coaches as they notice he is taking advantage of the offseason training and practice.
“He’s lost a little weight, he’s really taken to what Mick and the guys on the training staff and the strength and development program have told him, and he’s taken it to heart,” Alford said. “He’s taking care of himself. He’s getting better.”