Weber focuses on last shot at Axe

MINNEAPOLIS — Adam Weber was in the back seat of his parents' car six years ago, heading home to Shoreview, Minn., after wowing coaches at a summer football camp, when the call he had dreamed of since childhood finally arrived: We're offering you a full-ride scholarship. Come play Big Ten football for us.

And that's how Weber became the most accomplished quarterback in Wisconsin history.

"Almost," Weber corrected.

Right. Funny how things work out. Weber told the Badgers thanks, he'd get back to them. He enjoyed Madison, and easily pictured himself running Wisconsin's bruising run-run-then-throw-deep offense. His father had attended Minnesota, and the Gophers were interested, too, but the choice wasn't as simple as bloodlines. "It was pretty neck-and-neck," Weber said. "I really liked Wisconsin, really liked the coaches over there. It was like a 50-50 choice for a while."

He eventually realized that his Minnesota pedigree was too strong to allow him to cross the St. Croix. So he never became a Badger, never heard his name chanted in crazy-rowdy Camp Randall Stadium, never became the face of the Big Ten's archetypal overachievers. And here's the one that makes him flinch: never won Paul Bunyan's Axe.


Well, not yet.

There's still one more chance, and Weber honestly sounds as though a win in Madison on Saturday would complete his lifetime bucket list, that he might trade all the games and yards and touchdowns for 30 seconds of hoisting the axe in victory, of waving it at those red-and-white undergrads who never got a chance to cheer him. Maybe it's the thrill of watching the Gophers win it when he was a teenager, or the pain of blowing second-half leads to the Badgers for three consecutive seasons, but Weber grows almost misty at the thought of beating his woulda-coulda Wisconsin teammates.

"You see how much fun, how much enjoyment (the Badgers) get out of it," the 23-year-old grad student said. "To be part of a team that's able to do that will be something I'll cherish for the rest of my life. This season hasn't gone the way we all dreamt, but we can still accomplish something that would be very special for all of us."

That's coming from someone who has about as many personal accomplishments as hairs on his head yet seems perpetually dogged by disappointment. His name ranks atop every major Minnesota passing record, career and single-season, he's closing in on becoming the fifth Big Ten quarterback to surpass 10,000 passing yards, and this week he'll surpass Houston's Case Keenum as the most experienced quarterback in the nation by making his 44th career start.

But those other 43 games have produced only 15 victories, prompting an occasional anyone-but-him movement, most recently focusing on QB of the future MarQueis Gray, among fans whose first instinct is to blame the quarterback.

It's an instinct Weber's coach doesn't share.

"We're getting excellent play from MarQueis at receiver, and we're getting really good play out of Adam at quarterback, and that's the best thing for our team. It gives us the best chance to win," coach Tim Brewster said. "Adam has done a great job leading our team.

"He's played much smarter. He's been really good in the pocket. ... He's done a lot of things statistically, and now what Adam Weber wants more than anything is to win a trophy game."


So it seems. It almost happened his redshirt-freshman year, when Weber threw for 352 yards, ran for 87 and accounted for three touchdowns. He came close as a sophomore, when Minnesota blew a 21-7 halftime lead despite three more passing TDs from the quarterback. He thought he had finally accomplished the feat last year, when he passed for 271 yards and another score and the Gophers received a huge break in the form of an 88-yard fumble return.

"Out of all the series in my career, this one has been the most painful," Weber said. "I'm really hoping that this year we can go out there, stay calm, stay relaxed and really capitalize on the opportunities that present themselves."

And if they don't? Doesn't he occasionally regret — or at least second-guess- not saying yes all those years ago, in the back seat of his parents' car?

"Not even once. I'll never second-guess that," Weber said. "My grandmother's been able to make it to every single home game. My friends have come and watched me play. The wins aren't where I would have liked them to have been, the trophies, you name it. But when it's all said and done, I'll leave here with a big smile on my face knowing I just had the best five years of my life."


(c) 2010, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Visit the Star Tribune Web edition on the World Wide Web at

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

What To Read Next
Get Local