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Kragthorpe: Eric Weddle's character displayed vs. BYU

Published May 20, 2013 9:13 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Mike McCoy, now Eric Weddle's coach with the San Diego Chargers, will be remembered forever as the University of Utah quarterback who delivered consecutive 34-31 victories over BYU.

One of Weddle's signature moments came in a loss to BYU.

That's not to overlook Weddle's three wins over the Cougars as a Ute defensive back, with each victory highly memorable in its own way. Yet his actions in defeat may have made him the most respected player in the history of the rivalry, as viewed from both sides.

Weddle sought out BYU quarterback John Beck on the field to congratulate him after the Cougars' final-play, 33-31 victory in 2006, and expressed happiness for him again in the postgame news conference. That's one of the stories that defines Weddle's character, as portrayed in No Excuses, No Regrets: The Eric Weddle Story, by Trent Toone.

The book captures Weddle's drive and determination to become an All-American for the Utes and a second-round draft pick in San Diego, where he's entering his seventh season. Weddle traces his motivation to his early teens in southern California, where coaches in Pop Warner football and high school kept him out of the lineup.

"Those two instances right there gave me so much fire and anger and fuel," he said during an interview, while visiting Salt Lake City to promote the book. "Even looking back now, it kind of gets me going. It helped me, but at the time it made my life so miserable."

Now that he's an AP All-Pro second-team selection, Weddle still welcomes any slight that pushes him. Former NFL star Darren Woodson, an ESPN analyst, recently omitted Weddle from a list of the league's top five safeties.

"I took the picture," Weddle said, "and I look at it every day. … You never want to think you've arrived. I still feel like I'm out to prove that I'm one of the best in this league, if not the best."

Weddle gradually established himself in San Diego, after being a four-year star for the Utes. In addition to three wins over BYU, he led dominating defensive performances in four bowl victories — including the 35-7 defeat of Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl that completed a 12-0 season in 2004, when he was a sophomore.

In the interview, Weddle also addressed the impact of McCoy, formerly the Denver Broncos' offensive coordinator, and the move of ex-Ute teammate Alex Smith to AFC West rival Kansas City, after being traded by San Francisco.

McCoy brings "that sense of belief, that confidence, the energy, and just kind of transformed the whole team into what he wants," Weddle said. "Very demanding, outspoken, but also wants what's best for the team. It's not about himself."

As for Smith, he said, smiling, "I hope I pick him off, like, 10 times and I hope we beat him. But I wish him the best and I'm excited for him."

The Chargers and Chiefs will meet Nov. 24 in Kansas City and Dec. 29 in San Diego.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt