By Rich Garven
Telegram & Gazette Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2019 at 5:25 PMUpdated Jul 6, 2019 at 5:25 PM
WORCESTER — The trucks would arrive in the morning filled to their metal roofs, and Mike Weaver would unload them for an online retail store, his days interspersed with an occasional class at a local community college.
More than a year after graduating from high school, Weaver was laboring and living at home in Pine City, a rustic community of 5,000 or so residents in south-central New York that sits on the border with Pennsylvania.
He was also on a quixotic quest to obtain an — make that another — athletic scholarship. Either in soccer, a sport he had extensive experience and success in, or football, a sport he had limited success and even less experience.
“Then one day I just kicked a football, and it was like, ‘Wow, we should really just send this out,’ ” Weaver, 27, recalled Tuesday. “So along with sending a bunch of stuff out for soccer, we sent out the YouTube video of me kicking.”
The video showed the right-footed Weaver, whose football experience at that point consisted of four games as a high school senior, connecting on field goals from as far as 70 yards, including a 50-yarder with his left foot. He also booted punts that traveled 70 yards and kickoffs that soared 80 yards.
The clip has been viewed more than 5,000 times. Most importantly, it caught the early and immediate attention of Billy Mitchell, then the special teams coach at Wake Forest.
One miraculous thing led to another, and Weaver soon found himself the recipient of a full ride to the private university in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, beginning in the fall of 2013.
That was 2½ years after graduating from Southside High in Elmira, New York, and having turned down a scholarship to play Division 1 soccer at Binghamton University because “the fit” wasn’t right.
“It was unbelievable,” Weaver said. “It was definitely God’s plan. It was crazy how all that worked out.”
After redshirting as a freshman, Weaver went on to kick for four years at Wake Forest. The two-time All-ACC selection is the most accurate field goal kicker (76.4 percent) in school history and graduated with a degree in health and exercise science last May.
Since then, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Weaver has been pursuing a professional career.
He’s had inquiries, but not offers from NFL teams, tried out for the now-defunct Alliance of American Football and hopes to join the XFL when it debuts in February. He has kicked in the Your Call Football League in Jacksonville and for Baltimore in the Arena Football League.
“The ultimate dream is to get in the league,” Weaver said. “I’ll be blessed to get there, even if it’s just a tryout, a workout, a year, five years. Whatever it is, that’s been my goal.”
Weaver signed with the Pirates May 25, nine days after being released by Baltimore with a foot injury. He’s been healthy and happy in Worcester, placing 3 of 6 field goals and 39 of 48 extra points along with a two-point drop kick through goal posts that are 5 feet higher and nearly 10 feet narrower than in the outdoor game.
“So now I’m here and kicking well,” said Weaver, who has a local connection as his dad is a graduate of WPI, and his oldest brother was born in Worcester.
Same goes for the way the team is playing.
The visiting Pirates ran their winning streak to six games, raised their record to 7-4 and clinched a playoff berth as Weaver nailed a team-record 60-yard field goal as time expired to defeat the New York Streets, 54-52, on Friday night.
“It’s exciting, we’re clicking,” Weaver said. “We have a lot of camaraderie on this team, and we all love each other and are willing to work for each other. That’s what’s important, and you can see it on the field.
“We’re all celebrating for one another, there’s no jealousy, there’s none of that. We all know we have one part to do on the team, and we just do it.”