Mike Weber was getting into his father’s car after Detroit Cass Tech won the 2011 Division 1 state championship when Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher walked by holding the trophy.
“It’s your turn next,” Wilcher yelled to Weber.
Weber was a freshman running back and would have seen extensive playing time had he not suffered a torn medial collateral ligament before school began. He was thrilled to see his teammates do well but was a bit disappointed at the same time.
“On the sidelines watching them win a state championship, I was kind of upset because I wanted to be a part of it,” Weber said. “But I knew that was even more motivation to come back the next year and help win it the next year.”
Weber, who committed to Michigan’s 2015 class this summer, is all about motivation. He finds motivation everywhere, sometimes even where it doesn’t exist.
“My freshman year I was one of the top guys coming in, so a lot of people expected a lot of things from me,” he said. “It just made me work harder so I wouldn’t disappoint a lot of people. Me coming in, I had a chip on my shoulder that I had to work the hardest or as hard as I could.”
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Weber disappointed no one as a sophomore, although he missed the first three games with a pulled groin. He scored two touchdowns against Detroit Cody in Week 4 and kept improving.
He began the state playoffs with a 169-yard, two-touchdown performance against Saline and capped off the season with 190 yards in the championship game to help Cass win the title again.
Weber has always been one of the best players on the field no matter the competition, even if he didn’t realize it was competition.
“I was just going out and having fun,” he recalled. “It really wasn’t that much important at 5 years old and 6 years old. I just went out there and played like I was in the backyard, and everything worked out for me.”
Last season, Weber ran for 1,754 yards on 134 carries and scored 22 touchdowns in earning All-State Dream Team honors.
“I did everything I could so I wouldn’t be a bust or anything,” he said.
Weber knows all about busts. He has played against Police Athletic League phenoms who disappeared when they reached the next level.
“There’s a few guys that I know, a few guys that I heard of, that are busts,” he said. “They got to high school, you never heard of them. That’s really one of my worst fears, so I made sure it didn’t happen.”
It didn’t happen because Weber is driven to succeed and finds ways to keep himself motivated.
“It’s something that actually keeps me going,” he said. “Now I feel the same way about college. I’m going to be working 10 times harder than I am now so I won’t be a bust for college. A lot of people are really expecting me to be good. It’s all motivation. It’s like starting all over again.”
The season starts again Friday when No. 4 Cass plays No. 7 Oak Park at 7 p.m. at Wayne State in the Prep Kickoff Classic. Weber will be motivated for that game.
“If you have motivation it means you have mental toughness,” he said. “Mental toughness is the main part of football. If you’re sitting on the couch and you’re just playing a game, mental toughness will tell you go do some push-ups or go outside and run a few blocks.
“That’s how I look at things.”
Meet the Technicians
Top players: RB Mike Weber, 5-10, 215; DE Josh Alabi, 6-5, 290; LB Mike Oliver, 6-0, 233; WR Keshawn Gilmore, 6-2, 185; QB Jayru Campbell, 6-3, 187; junior OG Michael Onwenu, 6-2, 285; junior DB LaVert Hill, 5-9, 160; so. WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, 6-2, 175.
Overall state playoff record: 22-13.
Coach: Thomas Wilcher, 125-59, 18th season at Cass.
Overview: Much of the preseason talk about Cass will center on Campbell’s impending release from jail, but the Technicians will be fine until he returns a few weeks into the season. Weber (Michigan) could be the best back in the state and is a national recruit. Alabi (Ohio State), Oliver (Central Michigan) and Hill should help form another excellent defense. Cass has a solid offensive line, and Gilmore and Peoples-Jones are dangerous receivers.
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.