Football star got his start with soccer

ATHENS - For the coaches at Red Bank High School in Little Silver, N.J., it must have seemed like Christmas.

The first time they ever saw Kade Weston, he was a stranger walking through the parking lot of their school - a big stranger. Weston had just moved to New Jersey from the island nation of Trinidad and was at his new school during the summer before his freshman year to register for classes.

"The first question they asked me was am I going to be playing football," he said, "and I said, ‘Yeah.'"

Until that day, he had never tried the game, but it was obvious to all who met Weston, who's now 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, that he had a future in it. Many of his teammates-to-be also were at the school that day, as he remembers it, taking summer school classes.

"They thought I was a teacher or something," Weston said.

Weston grew up playing soccer goalie in Trinidad, a 37-mile by 50-mile island just off the coast of Venezuela, but he took to football so quickly that he had 114 tackles and 14 sacks a junior and entered this season as one of the nation's most highly coveted prep players.

Rated a five-star prospect by, Weston chose to play for Georgia over Maryland and Tennessee. He also had scholarship officers from Florida, Florida State and Oklahoma, but he has verbally committed to sign with the Bulldogs on Feb. 2, the first day high school players can make their intentions official.

"When I went down there, I just liked everything from the players to the coaching staff," said Weston, who attended Georgia's summer football camp last year. "They've got a good football program, and I put them on the top of my list coming off the camp. They held it strong all the way."

The move from New Jersey to the Deep South is not too daunting for someone who's already taken his life from one continent to another. The fact that he already has family in the state helps as well. The fact that that family, cousin Yvonne Reeves, is a Bulldog fan, helped Georgia.

"She sent them a letter asking them if they'd ever heard of Kade Weston, and if they were recruiting me," Weston said.

College coaches are not allowed to make public comments about high school players until the player has signed a letter of intent, but recruiting analyst Scott Kennedy said the Bulldogs have to love what they have in Weston.

"The fact that he's played so little just shows you what kind of potential he has," Kennedy said.

Kennedy compared Weston to former NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon, who grew up playing soccer goalie in Lagos, Nigeria, before transferring his skill to another sport.

"That's the kind of athleticism and footwork that that sport will develop," Kennedy said. "That bodes well."

Weston and safety C.J. Byrd are the top two players in the Bulldogs' signing class so far. Georgia has commitments from 16 players and is expected to add only a handful to that list before National Signing Day. Weston played both defensive end and offensive tackle for his high school, but he's expected to play on the interior of the defensive line for Georgia.

Unless the offense nabs him.

"There's always a chance, but I don't think there's any chance (defensive line coach) Rodney Garner lets him loose," Kennedy said.

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