Quarterback to pick 2010 area high school games
By Kyle LoJacono
When Drew Weatherford started playing football with the Citrus Park Bills of the Tampa Bay Youth Football League he could not have expected his career to come back full circle.
Those first fields at Skyway Park near the Veterans Expressway where he learned the game are also where his tryout was with the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League (AFL). Weatherford, 25, made the team as a backup quarterback and special teams player.
“I love playing football and this opportunity with the Storm was such a blessing from God,” Weatherford said. “Ever since I was little I wanted to play professional football. I didn’t think it would be in the AFL, but it’s still great to be able to continue to play.”
Weatherford, of Odessa, played at Land O’ Lakes High. He was the third of six brothers to play for the Gators, including current senior quarterback Stephen Weatherford. Also playing with Land O’ Lakes were his older brothers Will and Sam and his younger brothers Joe and John
Stephen said he got to see his brother play a couple of times in person this year and also watched on TV whenever he could. While it was a little strange to watch him running down the field on special teams, he said it is still nice to see his older brother play professionally.
As a senior at Land O’ Lakes Weatherford led the Gators to a 12-1 record with 2,639 passing yards and 20 touchdowns in 2004.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Weatherford said of playing at Land O’ Lakes. “I had a great relationship with coach John Benedetto. I was the water boy from the time I was 12-years-old until I played there. I had a great relationship with the coaches and it was like playing for my dad.”
Benedetto coached for 32 years before retiring after the 2008 season.
Weatherford, who was born in Dallas but grew up in Florida, was ranked as the sixth best quarterback prospect in the country by Rivals.com, a national athletic evaluation group, when he decided to sign with Florida State University (FSU).
He took a medical redshirt his first year at FSU after hurting his ankle, but came back to set an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) freshman record with 3,208 passing yards. Weatherford finished his Seminoles career with 37 touchdowns.
Weatherford made the All-ACC Academic Football Team twice while at FSU and graduated with a degree in finance and real estate.
After graduating, Weatherford went undrafted by an NFL team, but was invited to participate in the Chicago Bears mini-camp. He also had tryouts with the New Orleans Saints and others with the Orlando Tuskers of the United Football League and with the Canadian Football League.
Weatherford did not get to play with those teams, but their loss was the Storm’s gain. He is also working full-time with Imperium Development as its head of business development and government relations. Weatherford will be the expert high school football picker for The Laker/Lutz News this year.
“God works in funny ways sometimes,” Weatherford said. “I get to play for my home team and am getting a chance to do what I love. I couldn’t really ask for more than that.”