There is no offseason for college football players. At Nevada, the team went through an eight-week summer strength and conditioning period following spring camp as well as captain practices organized by the veterans on the roster. Among those veterans who have played an integral role getting the Wolf Pack ready for the 2019 season this summer has been linebacker Lucas Weber, a McQueen High graduate who has been granted a rare sixth year of eligibility.
For his leadership displayed this offseason, Weber is Nevada Sports Net's Wolf Pack Athlete of the Month for July, an honor presented in partnership with Champion Chevrolet. Here is a portion of our interview with Weber from Mountain West media days, including him getting to play an extra year at Nevada, getting married earlier this month, trying to win back the Fremont Cannon and meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger, among other topics.
NSN: You’ve already gone through a senior day. You’ve already walked out and gone through the ceremonial hug and played the final game you thought you’d play in a Wolf Pack uniform. Take me through that. What was that like, and where were you when you go that call (you were getting another year of eligibility)?
LW: The first time I started to figure out it was an option was preparation for senior week. It was kind of a really weird feeling. We weren’t really sure. I talked to my family and it was kind of an obvious choice I needed to take it. It’s funny that hug you’re talking about. I remember giving Coach (Jay) Norvell that hug and he said, ‘I’ll see you next year, right?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, of course I’ll come back.’ I did the whole walk. They said, ‘Do the traditions like you normally would. You never know what could happen.’ We did the traditions and here I am, doing the traditions again.
NSN: What’s your mindset going into your sixth season?
LW: I didn’t really expect that, getting the extra year, but when it was granted it was really nice. It’s a very similar mindset to last year, honestly, because last year I thought it was my last year playing, and now it’s for sure my last year playing. Just honing in on my craft. I always thought you had to be the workout warrior and you kind of realize the game is played on the field and not the weight room. We have some guys like that and have them focused on it being football and not being a weight room thing.
NSN: You talk to any of your teammates or coaches and they note your leadership. What makes for a good leader on the football field and beyond what you do between the lines on game day?
LW: From when I first came in at Nevada, we had some really good leaders. You see what they really do well and there are some things I thought maybe they didn’t do so well. Each year that went on you try and figure out what really worked for them and what the team bought into. Now that I’m in this position, I just observed over the years and figured out what made a good leader. I tried to keep those skills. It was really just observing. For me now, the biggest thing I try to do is you can’t just preach it. You have to do it, too. You can get on guys, but guys won’t listen to you if you’re not going through the work with them. I hopefully have earned that respect from my teammates. You can’t slack off if you’re telling somebody else that they’re slacking off.
NSN: Tell me what it’s been like for you as a McQueen High School graduate who bleeds 775, everybody knows how much you love this area. to play your college football at the University of Nevada at Mackay Stadium?
LW: It’s really, really amazing because I grew up and you have some of the guys from Southern California or even Texas, they go to the Longhorns games or the USC games. I grew up going to the Nevada games. I looked up to those guys just like they looked up to the guys at USC and said, ‘Wow, this is amazing.’ I didn’t go to the USC games or anything like that. What I saw in college football was Nevada football. When I had the opportunity to walk on, I said, ‘Are you kidding me? I have to take it.’ There were no other offers and this was such a big opportunity for me. It’s a huge honor to still be here and accomplish a few of the things I have accomplished. I wound’t have thought it was possible as a freshman. It really has been an honor.
NSN: You guys begin the season with two Power 5 opponents (Purdue and Oregon). What do you think of this year's schedule?
LW: I’m really happy we open with two really tough opponents. It gets us going on the right foot. We have to really prep. You always have to prep, but these are very tough opponents we play right away and I love that no matter how we play everything is going to feel like a challenge from that point on.
NSN: What kind of momentum does the team bring from last year after going 8-5 with a win in the Arizona Bowl?
LW: It’s huge because coming off a loss sometimes you might think guys are hungrier, but coming off a win, it’s huge because guys know we can do it. We went to a bowl game, we won our bowl game, we had a winning record. Guys know that we can compete at that level. We had some mistakes last year we need to change. Eight wins is good, but we can be a lot better.
NSN: You began your career as a walk-on running back under Coach Polian and are now a scholarship linebacker under Coach Norvell. How has the culture changed during your time at Nevada?
LW: When I first came in I was a young buck and didn’t know exactly how college football was. I’d say I played selfishly. I was, like, ‘I need to get on the field, I need to get these stats, I need to get the ball as a running back.’ When I moved to linebacker -- first of all defense is more selfless in my opinion -- but I learned if you don’t do things right yourself it messes up everybody else. I think the mindset has changed as a coaching staff to be a selfless, tough-ass kid. You want to be a selfless, tough-nosed kid. That’s the mindset that we're trying to bring.”
NSN: You’re going to get to walk out and see No. 7 (Gabe Sewell, who contemplated transferring) out there with you in the linebacking corps. Defensively, where do you have to step up and be as good defensively as you were last year?
LW: The fact that we have 7 back and here with us is going to be huge for our defense. Everybody knows that guy can ball. He and I were talking the other day with (nose guard) Hausia Sekona, just the mindset we need to bring, being tough-nosed kids. Being selfless guys who are tough as nails and will throw their body around and put their body on the line for everybody around them, and if we do that we’ll win some games. Coach (Jeff) Casteel talks to the linebackers all the time, all he wants is tough kids who don’t make excuses and do what they’re asked to do. If you do that, you’ll win games.
NSN: What were the biggest steps you guys took in spring camp?
LW: We lost a lot of guys, especially on defense, and kind of getting the feel for the different safeties in the mix. Who will replace Malik Reed? We have another Maliek in Maliek Broady, and he’s done an amazing job. He loves to hit and fill in the run. I think going into the spring we were a little concerned and after the spring I was excited to see the steps that we made. I feel like each practice we made huge steps.
NSN: The quarterback position is different with Ty (Gangi) gone and three players competing for the job. What do you like about the players competing for that starting position?
LW: I love how competitive it is. Ty had that spot last year, but I love how competitive that room is. Everybody is in there watching extra film and trying to get the receivers to come out and throw more. It’s really excited to see that room challenge themselves. Whoever it is, they’re going to do a great job. I’m excited to see how that group does this season.
NSN: I noticed on your left hand you have a ring on your ring finger. Congratulations on getting married (to the former Taylor Owens). What’s married life been like for you?
LW: Three weeks down and still going really well. Hopefully it continues that way. It’s been great. She’s such a delight. She pushes me, we push each other. We were just texting earlier. She’s so happy I’m here. She’s my biggest supporter and it’s been great. It's been really special.
NSN: Your dad, Franz, is a six-time consecutive world speed skiing champion. I’m looking on the Internet. It says the fastest he’s been on skis is 138 miles per hour. What is your fastest speed on skis?
LW: I have to correct you because my dad would be mad if I didn’t. His max speed was 142. My dad and I will go up to Squaw Valley here and there and there are a few runs they have where we’ll push each other a little bit and it just kind of gets to the point where whoever has more weight will go faster because neither one will chicken out. It’s a lot of fun.
NSN: Everybody knows who your dad is, but you can’t do it without mom (Jannett). What’s it been like having that type of support in your household growing up here?
LW: They are great. Great, great, great parents. You guys know my dad. He’s a hoot for sure. But my mom was the one who kept everybody in line, even my dad. She’d have challenges with my dad. He just wanted to go have fun, go on his bike rides, be gone for 5 hours of the day, go do his crazy action sports and whatever he wanted, but she’d be like, ‘No, hey, you have to be with the family.’ She kind of brought everybody in. It’s pretty funny, too, because I didn’t grow up in a football family. On Super Bowl Sunday, we’d all go skiing because nobody would be on the ski slopes. My brother (Christoph) played his junior year of high school and that’s the only reason I got into football. If he didn’t play I probably never would have gotten into it. I’m so thankful he did because I love it.
NSN: Your parents know Arnold Schwarzenegger. Have you met the Terminator?
LW: I did meet the Terminator. Actually, in Squaw Valley. There’s a pretty funny picture of us, because my dad knows him fairly well, there’s a funny picture of us playing shuffleboard together at PlumpJack.
NSN: Your senior day this time around, you’re going to get a chance to get the Fremont Cannon back at home. What does that mean to you?
LW: I was heartbroken last year thinking this was my last chance to have that Cannon and we lost it and it’s down south right now. Just the fact that we have the potential to leave the Cannon in a better spot is huge for our seniors. When you leave as a senior you have to leave the Cannon home. I feel terrible for the seniors last year. It’s a very, very solid group of guys and even though we had a great season, they all have that bittersweet feeling because the Cannon’s not home. Just the fact we have the opportunity to do that this year and leave it in the place it belongs is huge.
Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MurrayNSN.
Previous Wolf Pack Athlete of the Month honorees