Weatherford x 2 (Don_Petersen/AP) (UCF_Athletics)
It is amazing how athletics are just in some people’s DNA. UCF redshirt freshman quarterback Joe Weatherford is one of those people, as he is a middle child in family full of collegiate football players.
Joe’s older brother Drew is probably the most recognizable of the Weatherford clan, as he is currently the starting quarterback for former ACC power, Florida State, but Joe is trying to make a name for himself in Central Florida, as the tall pocket passer has a strong, accurate arm.
Weatherford is currently in the middle of his first quarterback competition, as he appears to currently be second on the depth chart behind junior Michael Greco, (although it’s not yet been made official) who has some game experience under his belt, as well as great athleticism. Although Greco is certainly more athletic and experienced, Weatherford clearly has a better release and a slightly better throwing arm. Knights head coach George O’Leary gave this scouting report on Weatherford after Wednesday’s practice--
“Joe’s getting better and better. Joe’s sometimes his worst enemy, he sometimes out-thinks himself instead of just believing what you see and throwing the ball. And sometimes he holds it. Joe’s biggest problem is that he holds the ball too long and throws to a receiver instead of the spot. We continue to work with that and we’ll see what we can get done. Today he got better. He’s getting better and he just needs to learn to release it (the ball).”
The soft-spoken quarterback is certainly not overconfident which probably derives from his large upbringing and being in the same household with plenty of superior athletes. When I asked him what he needs to work on, Joe responded–
“The one thing that me and coach probably agree upon is my fieldmanship, which I’m striving to work on. I’m pushing myself to get better at, and I’ve always been a calm guy. I’ve always thought of myself as a leader, but not the vocal, outgoing type. I think that’s something that I need to work on, as well as getting my reads down.”
I asked if his some of his introverted nature tends from being a middle-child, and Joe joked--
“I didn’t have a lot of say, and I didn’t get my share of food, that’s why everybody else is bigger than me.”
Joe has had a great built-in advantage over many collegiate quarterbacks by having such a strong football presence in the household growing up. When asked about some of the advantages of his family situation, Weatherford responded--
“It’s helped me a lot. Especially in the work aspect. I’ve been showed how hard I need to work to get to a level like this and they’ve shown great leadership and they’ve helped me a lot throughout my entire career and that’s why I’m here.”
Joe also spoke glowingly about his older brother Drew, who has led the Florida State Seminoles with a better than 118 quarterback rating over his past two seasons.
“Drew’s been a great help for me, especially in high school when I’d go up (to Tallahassee) and watch him play. Anything he was learning, he’d teach it right to me. We’d always go out and work out together. A lot of what I learned about being a quarterback is from him.”
Joe seemed to certainly light up when I asked him about the Knights wide receiving corps, although he was very publicly correct by not naming a favorite--
“I don’t have a favorite target. We have a lot of good receivers and they’re really young and I’m really happy about it. They’re going to be here my entire career and it’s something to look forward to.”
The Knights spread offense that they will likely employ this season is something that Joe has some familiarity with, although when he sees game action, they may have to fine tune it to take advantage of his strength, which is clearly throwing the football.
“I’d like to think of myself as more of a pocket passer, I doubt anybody thinks I’m much of a runner. I love this offense and I’m trying to learn it as fast as I can.”
Weatherford is certainly not one to shy away from hard work, and learning the Knight’s playbook is a task that can be time consuming. “I’d like to think of it as another class, Weatherford said. “I’m taking five right now (classes), so with this, I’m really taking six classes. I try to keep up with it as much as I can. We come in here every day and watch film with the coaches, and sometimes we come in a couple times a day.”
I finally asked Joe if he’s a better quarterback than his brother Drew, and he was a bit hesitant at first before responding--
“My brother’s a great quarterback and I really haven’t proven myself yet, so I can’t really make any statements on that.”
At 6'4", Joe Weatherford stands tall in the pocket and has an arm that is about as good as anybody in Conference USA. There are still some issues with him holding onto the ball too long and his lack of ferocity, but all of that could come with more experience. As of now, Weatherford is pushing junior Michael Greco for the Knights starting quarterback job, and barring major injury, will likely see the field when the real bullets fly at some point this season.