Belle Vernon linebacker’s name starting to carry weight with college recruiters

Wednesday, September 2, 2020 | 6:43 PM

Cole Weightman sees himself playing on a big college stage some day, maybe digging in behind the defensive line, his speed gauge set to downhill, with an eye toward ruining Saturdays for opposing quarterbacks.

But the emerging linebacker at Belle Vernon also might have a career as a salesman.

Watch the incoming junior’s Twitter account and it’s clear he has a knack for promoting a product. In this case, he is the product.

With the covid-19 pandemic changing the recruiting game and preventing prospects from showcasing their talents in front of college coaches, Weightman has campaigned over social media to let schools know of his talent and hunger to play at the next level.

Anyone can send a tweet or direct message to a coach with video clips of them lifting weights, running around cones or shuffling their feet. Dozens of players do it every day.

But Weightman isn’t just anyone.

The old adage that says if you’re good enough, they’ll find you probably would apply to Weightman even if he hadn’t spent his summer connecting with college programs. His potential looms large.

“I know he’s talking to a lot of schools,” Belle Vernon coach Matt Humbert said. “He can be one of the best inside linebackers we’ve had. He played some really good football toward the end of last season, and I think he is ready to explode.”

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Weightman, who thinks he fell off the radar some due to such a quiet offseason, can be a force on defense for the Leopards. His daily grind to improve fuels his aspirations to make it big.

“The only thing I guarantee is I that will outwork everyone,” said Weightman, a first-team all-conference player.

It is still a bit early for scholarship offers, but Weightman is anticipating a full mailbox when schools begin reaching out to recruits his age.

Right now, he is the one making offers to schools, hoping they can’t refuse, as he builds his brand.

He has heard from “30 schools or so,” in conferences such as the SEC, Big Ten, ACC and MAC. Penn State, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Illinois, Virginia and Virginia Tech are among them.

“A bunch of coaches follow me on Twitter,” he said. “There is still a lot of time for them to reach out. I have a bunch of offers and interest for wrestling, too.”

Getting workout videos in front of coaches, Weightman said, is part of the process.

A Weightman in a weight room, well, carries weight, man.

Especially since there is limited game film for them to see and nothing to view from the summer.

“It shows them how strong I am,” he said. “It shows them that I am working to become stronger and faster everyday, that I want to be the best.”

Wrestling could also take him places, but it appears he hears the football route calling his name loudly and clearly.

Weightman finished sixth in the PIAA last season wrestling at 220 pounds, a shoulder injury forcing him to medically default after he lost in the semifinals. He finished 31-4 with section and WPIAL Class AAA titles.

Wrestling is months away and football is now, so Weightman is looking to make a huge jump from his sophomore to junior season and take full advantage of the condensed schedule.

He played a key role last year in helping the Leopards reach the WPIAL Class 4A title game at Heinz Field. He had 98 tackles (14 for loss) to go with four sacks, one interception and two fumble recoveries, one he returned for a touchdown.

“I have been training six days a week with my coaches and trainers the last five months consistently,” he said.

His workout-specific team of trainers includes Al Poodie Carson for hands and feet, Ed Wietholder for speed and agility and Tim Livingstone for strength and conditioning. The group meets at 6 a.m. each week day.

Playing at a high level of college football has been a longtime goal for Weightman.

“I’m very competitive,” he said. “I’ve grown up hearing about my dad playing at Belle Vernon and winning a WPIAL championship in ‘95 and him being in the Belle Vernon Hall of Fame and going on to play baseball at West Virginia. So I would say it is in my DNA.

“I want to do the same for BVA. I want to lead my team to a WPIAL championship, first and foremost, but you can’t be a great player without your teammates.”

Winning truly is in his blood.

His father, Ed, starred on the 1995 title-winning team as a as a linebacker and quarterback. Cole’s sister, Casey, won a WPIAL softball title in 2018. She was the leadoff hitter and center fielder for the Leopards.

“My dad helps me stay in everything,” Cole said. “He pushes me. I’m thankful for him.

“My dad and sister were the first father-daughter to win a WPIAL championship at BVA and now it’s three of us because I won the WPIAL in wrestling.”

As he awaits what could be a barrage of offers, Weightman remains diligent in his efforts to stand out — on the field and on social media.

“I want to prove that I’m one of the best linebackers in the country,” he said. “There are a couple recruiting sites on Twitter that have me as far as the 15th-best linebacker in the 2022 class and a couple others that have me in the top 75. They have me as the fifth-best linebacker in the state. I believe that’s true. I think the kids that are ranked higher all have gone to those special camps. But it’s hard to do camps because I wrestle all year when there’s no football.”

The bottom line, Weightman said: “I have drive. I am going to continue to work. If I don’t believe in myself, why would anyone else?”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .


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