Recruiting can take many turns and sometimes, highly recruited prospects find the school they signed with, may not be right for their career goals.
Former Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne and Michigan State quarterback Messiah deWeaver found himself facing a hard decision about a year ago when he asked and received a full release from the Spartans football program.
After looking at several options, the former four-star ranked signal caller made the decision to take his talents to the Netflix famous East Mississippi Community College and head coach Buddy Stephens.
What lead deWeaver to leave East Lansing for Scooba, Mississippi?
“It was hard to leave Michigan State,” stressed deWeaver. “I enjoyed so many relationships there with those guys, the coaches and the people around Michigan State. There was nothing but love there and it was hard to leave and come to a junior college. Leaving a big university like Michigan State for a place in the middle of nowhere, was hard. However, I knew it was better for my future to come to East Mississippi.
“I left Michigan State with no character or academic issues. I’ve always been a great student. It was all about starting fresh and becoming the best player I felt I could be. When I got here, I feel I took advantage of all the opportunities presented to me and have been able to do that. My grades are good, and I’ll graduate in December and leave here in January.”
The move looks to have given deWeaver a new lease on his career as he’s grown on and off the field.
“I’m blessed, real, real, blessed,” he stressed. “We’ve been winning games and playing good football. It’s been nothing but a good transition down here and a lot of hard work has been put in to it. I’m extremely happy to see the results from it as I’m not close to 6-foot-5, 230-235-pounds.
“I’ve been able to put on good weight throughout the years as we’ve got a great strength program and the weather is nicer down here, so you can workout more during the winter months and just do more activities. So, it was good to be down here since the start of the
Having watched the first two seasons of Last Chance U on Netflix like many other football fans, deWeaver soon learned the show showed some truths, but there were also some misconceptions to what really happens to those who are there.
“I knew it would be rough, especially anything socially,” he said. “I know this, if you come to a junior college, you’ve got to love the game because it will test your faith and test everything about you. I kind of knew what I thought it would be, but it will test you and test if you really love the game.
“Netflix, it’s a cut-up of what they want to show you. They show some of the real with the location and that there is nothing around here to do but football. However, there were moments on the show that were not accurate.
“All in all, it’s what I thought it would be. As I said, you’ve got to love the game to come down here. In picking to come here, it had nothing to do from watching Netflix. It was all about Coach (Buddy) Stephens and I having the same mindset and same goals.”
On the field, deWeaver has proven to be extremely productive for the Lions helping them to an 11-0 record, No. 1 NJCAA ranking, third straight MACJC state championship and date to play the Broncbusters of Garden City Community College for a National Championship.
This season, deWeaver led the fourth-highest scoring offense in NJCAA while connecting on 69.2% of his 237 pass attempts (2nd in the nation) for 1,639 yards and 10 touchdowns while splitting reps. His play earned him NJCAA All-Region 23 and MACJC All-State postseason honors.
Making the move when he did, deWeaver knows the extra time on campus helped him develop more of his overall game.
“Having more time to study the game mentally, especially being in the film room every day has been huge,” he said. “During the offseason I had nothing but time and was able to work mentally and physically. I was able to get stronger and faster and add elements to my game I didn’t have in high school or take the ones I did have and make them better.
“The mental part of my game got better being able to run the plays here, especially in this conference as it’s the hardest conference in the country.”
While deWeaver started his journey at the start of the year, two former high school teammates, Matt Wilcox (Bowling Green) and Tobias Gilliam (Kentucky) were on the same journey by the time summer came around.
How was the trio able to help each other with the change from Football Bowl Subdivision to tje Junior College ranks?
“Those guys saw me go through the process as I arrived here in January,” said deWeaver. “They got to their schools, Matt at Independence and Tobias at Arizona Western, in July. They had a bunch of questions and going through the process we’ve helped each other as I was able to help them understand what to expect.
“Matt’s season is over, but Tobias has a bowl game left. I’ve been unable to watch a lot because of our season, but I feel they’ve both had productive seasons and did well.”
When asked what advice he’d give young players out there going through the recruiting process. deWeaver made clear visits are the key.
“I feel you should take every visit you can take,” he said. “Hear everybody out and get around and see everybody. Become comfortable with the people and not just the place. The biggest advice would be to get out and see everything and not hold yourself hostage to one or two places.”
As for how recruiting is going the second time around, deWeaver knows he’ll soon have to make another life changing decision.
“The schools that have offered are Toledo, Akron, Central Michigan, Louisiana Lafayette and Southern Mississippi,” he said. “Those are the ones that have straight up offered me right now. Junior college is crazy as I’ve been hearing from schools like West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma State and Kansas.
“I’ve been hearing from everybody and everybody is waiting to see how December goes as it should be a crazy month as my recruiting is wide open and up in the air. Right now, I don’t know where I’m going to be in January. However, I’m giving everyone a chance to recruit me.”
With his parents having moved South a couple of years ago and since arriving in Scooba, deWeaver has found a liking to the weather. Will that play a factor in where he’ll look to continue his career?
“I’m good with going anywhere in the country,” he stressed. “I’m not scared of the cold weather as I’ve been in it my whole life. However, I like the warm weather as well. Whatever the best opportunity is for me, is where I’ll go. It doesn’t matter if its up North or down South, as I’m open to go anywhere.”
When may deWeaver look to end this round of recruiting?
“The end of November and December are going to be crazy,” he stressed. “I’m not locked in to sign on the first signing date. If I find the right place in December, I’ll sign. However, if I must wait until January, I’ll do it then.”
You can watch deWeaver and the No.1 ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College (11-0) play the No. 2 ranked Garden City Broncbusters (10-0) on the CBS Sports Network at 8:00 p.m. est. Thursday, November 29 from Pittsburg, Kansas.
NOTE: Tobias Gilliam was named to the All-WSFL and All-Region Second Teams this season with 46 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one interception and seven pass breakups as well as a forced fumble.