Guard Weisner a Sledgehammer

West Point - The sandwich is called "The Cadet". It comes with steak and salami smothered in mozzarella on ciabatta bread. Sounds good. Tastes good, too. Army starting right guard Matt Weisner can attest to that. He loves the sandwich and not just because a deli in nearby Hopewell Junction named it in honor of him.

"I ate one the other day," says Weisner the other day after practice at Michie Stadium. "I have an awesome appetite. I'm still eating a lot and gaining weight. I think I gained 10 pounds in the offseason."

Matt Weisner checked in at about 290 pounds when spring drills began last month. He was 240 when then-Army coach Todd Berry pulled him into his office in 2003 and asked him if he wanted to long-snap for him.

"It would be a good way for you to get to travel with the team." Weisner remembers Berry telling him.

Weisner told Berry he was fine with that. He wasn't. Weisner wanted to be a full-fledged offensive lineman.

But he was undersized. So Weisner worked to bulk up, hitting the weights harder than ever before. He ate a whole lot more – we're talking about going back for seconds, thirds and fourths at dinner.

All his hard work paid off when he was named a starter before last season. And it's still paying off.

Weisner and sophomore strong safety Caleb Campbell were given the Sledgehammer Award by Army coach Bobby Ross and his staff after practice on Thursday. It is given each spring to the player(s) that shows up to practice with "his lunch pail and hard hat and gives it his all every day.

"The award epitomizes Matt," Ross says. "He comes to work every day. He works hard and tough. Matt's a guy that started at the very bottom and worked to the top."

Bulking up sure helped, but Weisner's desire and stubbornness helped him rise from anonymity to starting offensive lineman. Weisner, a junior, took snaps at offensive line with the scout team as a freshman in 2003 when Berry wasn't looking, and sneaked into meetings with the unit.

He never got a look on the offensive line and blew out his left shoulder, an injury that required surgery. Weisner wasn't on the depth chart at left guard when Ross began his first season in 2004.

But Weisner kept working hard learning the left-guard position, and was second on the depth chart behind senior Adam Wojick by the end of the year. Weisner edged senior Dan Evans for the starting job during spring drills last year and was later moved to right guard.

Said Ross of Weisner before last season: "Matt has probably come as far as any player at any program I've coached on the college level." This from a coaching legend that won a national championship at Georgia Tech and turned Maryland into an Atlantic Coast Conference power.

It's apparent: Weisner has made his coach and his hometown deli proud.

"I set my goals to be a starter since the day I got here," Weisner says. "To be a two-year starter really means something."

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