Brandon Wellington Can’t Wait To Play

While most high schools were practicing last week as part of their pre-season preparations, Eastside Catholic was no different. The reigning 3A champs, who defeated Bellevue in December, hit the field minus one of their superstars - Brandon Wellington.

The 6-0.5, 225 pound senior-to-be was still suffering from putting his body on the line in helping the Crusaders make history. Brandon Wellington had off-season shoulder surgery for a fractured collarbone and partially torn labrum. He’ll be back in July.

“It’s hard to sit here and watch my brothers go to war every day at practice and competing and me not doing it, but it’s good to sit back and teach the younger kids and see what their mistakes are and help ‘em out,” Wellington told Dawgman.com.

Wellington didn’t have to sit out too long, as he continues to do what he can to make a difference. He traveled down to Eugene Sunday to take part in the Opening regionals - formerly known as the Nike Football Training Camp - and he took home Linebacker MVP honors.

Obviously the team goal at Eastside Catholic is to start their own run of state titles. But what about individually for Wellington? “Just play to the best of my ability,” he said. “Last year I wasn’t fully 100 percent, but coming into this year I will be. So whatever I can do to help my team win, that’s what I’ll do.”

Eastside Catholic Head Coach Jeremy Thielbahr can’t wait to see the progress Wellington has made heading into his final year as a Crusader.

“I’m really excited to see Brandon,” said Thielbahr. “Obviously he’s been a team captain for us before; first team all league, first team all state. He’s already committed to U-Dub, he’s got a TCU offer. He’s got multiple offers from the Pac-12. He’s a dynamic player, but really he’s a better leader, better person than all that. He loves football. He loves to talk about it, he loves to be around it. He’s what you want in a high school football player.

“We really want him to take huge steps forward in leadership, huge steps forward as a guy that can play multiple positions for us as far as wideout, running back. Obviously being in the secondary, but also linebacker for us. He’s going to be that guy we put on the field for us. He’s got to go both ways for us most likely in some games. It’s going to be exciting to see the step from junior to senior year because he’s had some amazing steps already in his high school career.”

An early season loss to Bishop Alemany at home propelled the Crusaders on their title march. Wellington and his Eastside Catholic teammates head to Oceanside, Calif. Friday September 4th to play in the annual Honor Bowl. Bellevue beat Gardena Serra in last year’s game, and now it’s up to the Crusaders to do the same to Oceanside High.

On the recruiting front, Wellington shut down the process when he verbally committed to the Huskies back in August of last year. But that doesn’t mean he’s been able to avoid contact from other programs, even if it doesn’t mean much in the larger scheme of things.

“Schools are still recruiting me, especially TCU,” he said. “They are recruiting me heavy. That’s pretty much it; TCU’s still trying to get me. But I’ve been getting a lot of mail from Pac-12 schools.”

Wellington added that he speaks to the Washington coaches - including Head Coach Chris Petersen - three times a week. “Just casual conversations, nothing really about recruiting,” he said. “Just saying hi, how am I doing, how’s my family. There’s still a good relationship there. I’d say three days out of the week we talk. They talk to you like they are your friend. Coach Pete just asked me the other day who is going to win the (NBA) Finals, and all that.”

Unfortunately for Wellington, he had the Cleveland Cavaliers taking the title.

When you look at Wellington physically, he reminds you of Shaq Thompson, who was just picked in the first round of the NFL Draft. Like Thompson, Wellington has shown an ability to be an impact player on both sides of the ball. Could Wellington follow the example Thompson set at UW and be a legitimate three-way performer?

“As long as I’m on the field, I’m happy,” he said. “And if that means going both ways and if God blesses me with good ability in college - then yeah. Go in there, learn the system, and go do that.”

“I think Brandon’s athletic,” Thielbahr added when asked the same question. “I think he can play in space, but I can’t tell you if he’s going to go both ways. Playing in the Pac-12 is a big step and he’s going to have to go there and grind it out.

“What I can tell you is that Brandon is going to be a great OKG, as coach Petersen talks about. He’s going to be a guy that shows up every single day and plays hard. I’ve seen Shaq practice and in my opinion Brandon has some Shaq to him. He loves to play the game. Shaq, the last time I was at practice a year ago, he made a huge hit. Brandon does the same thing. He’s the guy where you go, whoa! Great play. Hopefully he can go there and stay healthy and have a great impact.”




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