SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio has a long and proud tradition of sending some of its best high school football players to the country’s service academies.
Wagner quarterback Tobias Weaver, who is expected to sign a letter of intent with Navy on Wednesday, got a crash course on that history when he made a recruiting visit to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., two weekends ago.
“I had no idea about all the guys from San Antonio” who played at the service academies, Weaver said Tuesday night. “But I’m proud to be following them, and I’m determined to continue the tradition.”
Weaver is expected to be the only player from a Greater San Antonio school to sign a letter of intent Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA’s traditional signing period. Most of the area’s top recruits signed during the early signing period in December.
Weaver, who also had a scholarship offer from Army, committed to Navy on the Tuesday after his recruiting visit. Midshipmen head coach Ken Niumatalolo was so impressed with Weaver that he accompanied assistant coach Joe DuPaix for a follow-up visit to San Antonio on the day Weaver committed.
“I feel that the Navy people really want me there and it’s a good atmosphere,” Weaver said. “I had a great visit when I went up there.”
Born in Rochester, N.Y., Weaver started school in Orlando, Fla., and didn’t move to San Antonio until the summer before his seventh-grade year. A deft operator of the triple-option offense, Weaver piled up more than 2,600 yards of total offense and had a hand in 40 touchdowns last season. He helped lead Wagner to a 13-2 finish and a berth in the Class 5A Division I state semifinals.
Standouts such as Scott Thomas, David Evetts, Ram Vela and Noah Copeland are among the ranks of San Antonians who have played for Air Force, Army or Navy through the years.
Thomas, a 1982 Jay graduate, went on to an All-America career as a safety at Air Force and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012. Evetts starred at Army and Vela and Copeland had outstanding careers at Navy.
The Midshipmen have four players from Greater San Antonio schools on their 2019 roster, junior outside linebacker Ian Blake (Brandeis), sophomore wide receiver Mychal Cooper (Taft), junior offensive tackle Billy Honaker and junior slotback CJ Williams (Steele).
“I had a chance to sit down and talk with CJ and (Blake), and they said they love it up there,” Weaver said. “They both said that when they were in high school, they thought they never would join the military. They didn’t think the military was for them.
"Typical stuff anyone would say. But when they got there, it changed their lives. It changed their whole perspective on the military.”
Weaver will attend the Naval Academy’s prep school in Newport, R.I., for a year after graduating from Wagner and enroll at the Academy for the 2020-21 school year. He will have to serve in the military for five years after earning his bachelor’s degree.
“The plan is to go to the NFL someday,” Weaver said. “But if push comes to shove, I’ll always have a guaranteed job coming out of the Academy.”
Navy recruited Weaver as a slotback, but the more film the coaches watched of him executing Wagner’s prolific triple-option attack, the more they became convinced he could play quarterback for the Midshipmen. All of the service academies run a version of the triple option.
Like most Texas high school teams, Wagner ran the spread offense before going to the triple option in the offseason before Weaver’s junior year. Ironically, Weaver didn’t like the offense initially.
“I thought it was going to limit my opportunities to be recruited as a quarterback because not a lot of schools run the option,” Weaver said. “I really thought I was going to have to change my position for college. I was getting ready to train as a DB (defensive back) or wide receiver.
“But then Navy came along. I felt great when they really started to recruit me as a quarterback. It’s a blessing. I don’t have to change anything I have to do because Navy runs the same offense I ran in high school. It’s a blessing to be able to take that knowledge and experience to the next level.”
Wagner coach Charles Bruce spoke highly of Weaver’s quarterback skills and his leadership on and off the field.
“He has ‘it,’” Bruce said. “Everybody talks about ‘it.’ He has ‘it.’ He understands the game. He understands what we’re trying to do. He understands what the defense is going to do. He has ‘it.’”
Weaver, who is 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, completed 68 of 105 passes with two interceptions for 1,247 yards and 21 TDs as a senior. He also ran for 1,427 yards and 19 TDs, and averaged 10.4 yards per carry.
College coaches are not allowed to comment on recruits before they sign their national letter of intent.
Asked why he thought Navy coaches changed their minds and started recruiting Weaver as a quarterback, Bruce said: “I think he was bigger than they thought he was. Once they saw him in person, they realized how big he was. Plus, he’s so fast.
“But the main thing is that he’s a very smart young man. He made our offense go. He could check things at the line. During practice, he would ask questions. He’s a very smart football player.”
Army was the only other FBS school to offer Weaver a scholarship. He also had an offer from Concordia (Neb.) University, which plays in the NAIA.
“I thought about walking on at UTSA, but I couldn’t put my mother through all that expense,” Weaver said. “To get a full ride to the Naval Academy is a blessing.”
And an opportunity to do what he’s dreamed about for years – play for an FBS school.