Weidenaar's Long Journey Leads Him To GSU

FEATURE ARTICLE: Georgia State had some signing week drama this week when their prized quarterback commit Trent Thompson decommitted on Monday afternoon. However, the Panthers knew all along who they would turn to if put in that position, and by Monday night that had reeled in Mark Weidenaar.

Trent Thompson had already been heralded as the quarterback of the future at Georgia State. He led McEachern to a 10-2 season and was poised to be one of the highest rated recruits in Georgia State’s short history. But last week rumors began swirling that Trent was wavering in his commitment, so panthersville.com spoke to him and he confirmed that he was 100 percent to Georgia State. He even told Panthersville.com there was no truth to the rumors and that he was no longer considering other schools.

Despite those comments, Trent went on a visit to Tennessee Tech last weekend, which resulted in him switching his commitment to the Golden Eagles. We spoke with Trent on national signing day and discussed why he made the change.

“I felt really comfortable up there. Most importantly I loved the atmosphere. It’s a small college town and everything is for Tennessee Tech,” Thompson said. “Georgia State is just kind of another thing going on in Atlanta. And when there is a game at Tennessee Tech the whole town comes out. So I guess it just feels good to be the center of attention like that.”

With Thompson no longer in the fold, most expected it would be impossible for Georgia State to replace him with a player anywhere close to the same caliber. However, Georgia State had come across a quarterback late in the year while they were watching one of their own commits and left that encounter with a lasting impression.

That quarterback was Mark Weidenaar. Georgia State coach Jason French had gone to see Georgia State commit Avery Sweeting from Brunswick play Lakeside, the team for which Weidenaar was the quarterback. Lakeside won the game 33-12 and Coach French returned from the trip with the Evans, Georgia signal caller on his mind.

After that, Georgia State stayed in contact with Mark and his Coach Jarrett Troxler told us they were very up front with him throughout the entire process. They liked him a lot, but they had Trent committed and thus were committed to him. They assured him, however, that if anything happened he would be the first one they called. Weidenaar finished his senior season and never got that call from Georgia State’s coaches. However, things fell into place and Thompson decommitted on Monday afternoon. Weidenaar was committed to Georgia State by Monday night.

“Mark had gone to Coastal Carolina this weekend,”  Mark’s coach Jarrett Troxler said. “He wanted to go Georgia State. He loves Coach Curry and really wanted to go there from the start. So they called us Monday night and said Trent had decommitted and the spot was there so he jumped on it.”

Georgia State was lucky have another option ready, but Troxler doesn’t just think they simply filled a spot. He believes they may have improved with the switch.

“Mark is a steal, and I don’t mind saying that one bit,” commented Troxler. “He is a BCS player. He got injured last year and that set his junior film behind and he was flying under the radar. A bunch of FCS schools jumped on him and by the time Georgia State saw him play against Brunswick they loved him. He is a great quarterback, a great athlete, and he is going to have a great career there.”

It has certainly been a long road for Mark on his way to Georgia State. After his sophomore season, Weidenaar had interest from and had went to camps at a number of high profile FBS including Georgia, Georgia Tech, Auburn, NC State, Wake Forest, and Vanderbilt. However, the injury his coach alluded to brought all of it a screeching halt.

“It was the last scrimmage before my junior year,” Weidenaar recalled. “I took a snap and was running with it and went to make a move on a guy. But when I went to make a move and plant, my knee popped. I tore my ACL completely, had some cartilage damage, and had a partial tear of my MCL.”

“After that I had to have surgery and went through six months of recovery. I began running track that spring trying to get ready for my senior year, but after my injury all the schools that had been contacting me had stopped. I went to some more camps to try to get my name out there, but no one really started talking to me until January. It was frustrating but Coach Troxler kept encouraging me to keep working hard and finally I got the offer from Georgia State to play quarterback.”

As mentioned before, that call came just two days before signing day. It had been 18 months since Mark had received any interest from a Division 1 college to play quarterback, but at last his hard work had been rewarded.

“I was so excited because just the night before I had called Coach French to see if anything had changed and nothing had. So when he called to tell me that I would have a full-ride to Georgia State that was really amazing,” Weidenaar continued. “I wanted to play quarterback and to know that I would have my chance there while getting to play for a guy like Coach Curry was very exciting.”

Mark’s long journey had finally come to an end. He went from a up and coming recruit who was receiving interest from top SEC and ACC programs to not having a single Division 1 offer to play quarterback. Many Georgia State fans, including myself unfortunately, saw the news of his commitment and immediately assumed he was going to play wide receiver. However, now he will be looked upon to lead a fledgling program into the toughest conference in FCS football. And it would certainly appear, at least to this writer, that Georgia State may have found their quarterback of the future after all.

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