Bicknell, who runs one of the most intense passing games in NCAA D-1 football, said the strong armed Weyman was a perfect fit for his throw-every-down offense, which, in-turn produces NFL QBís every three years or so. And while Tennessee deliberated over when they might award Weyman a scholarship, La Tech came in with promises, a plan, and backed it all up with the State of Louisianaís money in the form of a full ride for Weyman, who was only a high profile try-out at Tennessee.
Weyman, the muscular QB, who played at Fork Union Military Academy last year, said, "I am very grateful to the Tennessee staff for giving me an opportunity to see how I measured up against some of the best athletes in the country. I feel like I made an impact there as an athlete and as a potential QB prospect. But in the end, I feel La Tech's plan for me and their offense will development me faster and help me distinguish myself as a QB in college."
According to Max Emfinger, who knows the coaching staff well, La Tech feels Brett Weyman is the prospect to start after their senior QB plays out this year. And there is a plan. Weyman will be red shirted because there is a senior back up, there as well, to current NCAA active passing leader, Luke McCowan, who ranks high on NFL draft lists. So, Weyman has a clear shot to compete and become a starter for four years, according to Emfinger.
And as a plus, the Bicknells are a well known football family. Jack Bicknell Senior , the former head coach at Boston College, is an NFL scout and the head coach of the NFL Europeís team in Spain. He is also noted for the development of many young QBís who have made it to the NFL, including Doug Flutie. Jack Bicknell, Jr.'s offense, at La Tech, has remained among the top five passing offenses in NCAA football, since he has been at the helm. And Luke McCowan will be his second QB he has sent to the NFL in 5 years. The first was Tim Rattay, to San Francisco. So, how can you say no to that, if you seriously want to play QB.?
But it was Head Coach Phil Fulmer, who bluntly answered that question, by asking Brett to stay to stay at Tennessee. According to Brettís father, Grant Weyman, Fulmer was not pleased about the notion of Brett leaving. Weyman said, "Fulmer had a long meeting with Brett after he heard La Tech was offering." And he heard it directly from the horses mouth. "Coach Jack Bicknell called Fulmer,"according to Grant Weyman, "as a courtesy, since Brett was on his campus, to tell him he was going to make the offer.î
"Brett called home after that meeting, excited, and said he had a great long talk with Coach Fulmer, " Weyman said."He said, Fulmer told him directly that he was being considered for the back up role this year, to Casey, based upon what he showed while he was there. I was shocked to hear this and thought, maybe Brett misheard him. But, Brett seemed to think his place was secure there, because the coach said he had this plan for him. Fulmer told Brett he just needed more time to evaluate him in pads, and bring him along. I shared Brettís enthusiasm. I guess we thought Fulmer was serious, because it would have been easy for him to let Brett go and wish him well at La Tech, if he had no serious interest."
Weyman said, "I talked to Coach Fulmer a few days after he talked to Brett. I called him and asked him what Brett's situation was at UT. He said he was "extremely impressed with Brett, "and came right out and said he wanted Brett, to stay at UT and take a shot at the back up QB spot this year." I was amazed to hear this. He said, however, he would be unable to offer Brett until he saw him, "11 on 11."
Brett took an official visit to La Tech in March and watched their spring game. He reportedly loved their offense. But La Tech was out of scholarships at that time. According to Max Emfinger's earlier reports on Brett, La Tech had a couple of scholarships come available so now it was possible for La Tech to make the offer.
Emfinger said, "Coach Bicknell related to me that he called Coach Fulmer first to tell him he was going to offer Brett, because Brett was on his campus"Emfinger said,"I think Coach Bicknell felt he had been recruiting Brett all along, and that Brett was still fair game for him. "
Emfinger said while Brett was at UT, Grant Weyman visited Ruston and toured the La Tech facilities and met with the coaches. According to Emfinger, La Tech laid out a very specific plan for Brett, to his father, which was aimed at grooming him to start. Furthermore, Emfinger underscored that La Techís offense, which throws the ball 600 times a year as compared to Tennesseeís 300 average throws, impressed the elder Weyman.
Emfinger, who considered Brett to be one of the national superstars of the 2003 class, named him to his All-American team and ranked him, the number Ten QB in America. He also said Brett was the number One athlete among all drop back quarterbacks for that year. And Brettís performance at UT, this summer, seemed to bear this out. So, it was easy to see why Fulmer, who had gotten to know Brett well, over the 7 weeks of summer, was not eager to see him leave campus.
According to observers, Brett was indeed impressive during the summer drills. At 6í3î 226 lb. of solid muscle, with exceptional quickness and speed, and a big league arm, the early buzz in June, at the UT football complex, was all about walk-on Brett Weyman. His athleticism made a huge impact there.
And reportedly, he was putting on a show, with his arm. During player organized 7 on 7 matches, Brett had moved to third in the informal rotation which matched Casey, CJ Leak, and Brett against the Vol starting receivers, featuring James Banks and veteran defensive backs. Both Peyton Manning and Casey Clausen were highly complimentary of his velocity and accuracy. For sure some of this was getting back to Fulmer, who according to NCAA rules, canít be involved.
Brett spent four hours a day in the film room and was calling his own plays two days after he got there. In training drills, Brett immeadiately by-passed the other QB's and worked out with the veteran linebackers in the gym and the fastest skill players during runs.
According to Brettís father, Brett went in there to be reckoned with as an athlete and he was. He went in with the attitude of taking a spot rather than being assigned to one. And the trainers and players responded positively. So did Fulmer.
Coach Fulmer committed Brett to the 105 list, the official team roster, which is a necessary step for entry into preseason camp, and an unprecedented move for a new walk-on. Indeed, every door, at UT it seemed, began to open quickly for Brett.
Luckily, he was there with only the veteran players, as the freshman would not be seen for another eight weeks. So he was thrown right in with the big boys. And an eager but surprised UT staff rolled out the orange carpet for him.
So, it is no wonder Fulmer, who told people privately that he was also very impressed with Weyman's maturity, was building a scenario for him as the possible back up to Casey Clausen. But, in the end it was just a scenario. Because Coach Fulmer never backed it up with specifics, according to Brettís father. And to the Weymanís, it came down to simple logic. If Brett was good enough to be considered for a back up position this year, then he should be good enough to get a scholarship offer to remove the doubt which hangs over a walk-on.
Weyman said he asked the head coach, during his phone discussion with him, on the timing issue, of when Tennessee would be ready to offer Brett a scholarship. He said he felt like a reasonable request, based upon the circumstances. If Fulmer was indeed asking Brett to say no to La Tech, as he did, then surely he must have a specific plan, Weyman thought.
"Coach Fulmer said he was thinking mid-fall for his decision, on Brett, after he determined if he could fill the back up roll. " Weyman said. "This was news. We were thinking camp, which begins in early August. So, for me this was out of the question. That meant the loss of two years, of eligibility and I felt that was too much to ask. But Fulmer was adamant about Brett staying. He kept saying, "Brett would make a great story." So, it seemed to me that somewhere in his mind he had a plan. But he did not relate more details. Early on, I decided I would not to be a meddling father, so I told Coach Fulmer it was Brett's decision, and that I would support it. At the conclusion of our conversation Coach Fulmer said to me, ëYouíll just have to trust me."
Grant Weyman said, "Tennessee said from the beginning there would be no guarantees. We knew we were at risk there. But I told Coach Fulmer, ëit is not a risk, if your good enough." Brett went in there with that attitude. I talked to a lot of football people. Everyone felt seven weeks of time with the performance Brett established, at UT this summer, was more evaluation time than a staff ever gets with other recruits who they offer. And we felt the La Tech offer was too good to loose, which would have been the case with a two year commitment to UT.
"So, in the end," Weyman said, "I could not recommend to Brett that he accept Coach Fulmer's proposal, as hard as it was to say. But it was Brettís decision to make. So he went in to talk with Coach Fulmer in mid July. He asked for nothing. In essence, he was there to say good-bye. He told him he could not risk two years of eligibility and he thanked him for the experience and the chance to be at Tennessee and the opportunity to get to know him. He said coach Fulmer seemed surprised and still reiterated his hopes that he could have filled the number two spot by mid fall."
Weyman said, "This was the defining moment. If he truly was serious, I felt he would have at least sat Brett down and gave him a specific plan. In the end, it was this lack of clarity and the continuation of vagueness that killed the deal. So, Brett shook hands and it was over. "
Weyman said. " I think they misread Brett at UT. In Brett's mind he was a try-out, not a walk-on. The difference between the two, is a try-out expects an immeadiate decision. He either gets cut and moves on, or he makes it. He is a prospect or he isn't. There is a sense of urgency. A walk-on is looking for a second chance. And he has all the time in the world, because heís playing out his last option. Brett had options. So, he was there to see if he could win a spot at Tennessee, or move on.
"You can't blow smoke at Brett and expect that to hold him," Weyman continued. "I think they felt he was in the bag. But all the while they were evaluating him, Brett was also, evaluating them. He was performing and performance cuts both ways. When it comes to football he is all business. So, he did what he thought was best for Brett Weyman and his football career. It was just a business decision."
"But Tennessee really was a great experience for him. It turned out to be the ultimate summer football QB camp, " Weyman said.