MORGANTOWN - In those quiet moments in life, those times when it's just you alone with your thoughts or when slumber is slowly starting to set in and take the day's aches away, Bobby Weston envisions himself making those bone-jarring hits that separate the ball carrier from the ball.
Most people haven't heard of Bobby Weston, and the few that have could carpool to the football game in a Mini-Cooper. He's impersonated more people than Rich Little as he helps prepare the Mountaineers for their upcoming opponent, for that's what a scout team player does. Weston has had that thankless and anonymous task for three years now, and that career in the shadows will be coming to an end Saturday when his team faces Rutgers at noon at Mountaineer Field.
"He's the Rudy of the Big East," WVU coach Bill Stewart said, making reference to the movie about a walk-on player at Notre Dame who finally got in for the final two plays in the final game of his senior season.
Nothing would mean more to the undersized linebacker from Salisbury, Md., who studies biology and environmental micro-biology away from the football field. Fellow linebacker J.T. Thomas joked that if the situation presents itself, he would lead a "Bob-bee, Bob-bee" cheer on the sidelines to urge the coaching staff to get Weston into the game.
"He comes to practice every day and stays out of trouble," Thomas said. "You have more respect for somebody like that. It has to be hard for him not playing because he laces up his shoes every day just like me."
Weston just quietly shrugs off the movie references, the questions of what it would mean to go in for just one play, along with the curiosity of why he doesn't go where he could play on Saturday.
"It ain't my decision if I play," Weston said. "I do what I can, when I can. I'll be going home with no regrets. I do this because I love the game of football. I gave it all I had. I don't let it get to me."
What did get to Weston was having an opportunity denied to him at a smaller school. He wanted a tryout at a Division III school close to home, but the coach would not even watch his high school highlight film. He just brushed the youngster off with the comment that he was not good enough to play at even the smallest level of collegiate football.
"That coach didn't even know me," he said. "I asked me to wait to make a decision after he saw me in pads, and he said no. My dad told me that I didn't want to play for a coach like that, that they needed all the help they could get."
He decided to give West Virginia a try, arriving on campus about the same time as Stewart was officially taking the helm of the team. After going through the drills of spring ball, Weston learned he made the team.
"That was exciting," he said. "I remember texting my mom and dad with the news."
Unfortunately, he had made the scout team, the team that mimics the opposition and serves as tackling dummy-style fodder so that the varsity can get ready for the game.
"Practice jerseys are all that I get to see," he said. "I get an 'atta boy' every once in a while from the coaches."
You would think that he would feel a sense of elation when his hard work during the week pays off on game day for the Mountaineers. But ironically, it's quite the opposite.
"When they lose, I feel it," Weston said. "But it hurts more when you see them do good because you're wishing you were a part of it."
Weston will get to run out of the tunnel as his name is announced on Senior Day, finally getting to hear the roar of some 60,000 crazed Mountaineer fans on hand to cheer their team to what they hope will be a victory and a slice of the Big East championship pie. He just says it will be "nice" to feel his cleats on the turf and his No. 56 rippling in the breeze of his run on a Saturday afternoon. After that, anything else would be just a dream.
"I made my decision to come here," he said. "There's no need to think about anything else."