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Eric Weddle

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Eric Weddle of the NFL, photo from Mormon

Eric Weddle is a free safety for the San Diego Chargers of the U.S. National Football League. He is a convert to the Mormon Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having joined the Church while playing football for the University of Utah. [1]

Weddle was always a pleasant, clean living kid, and a natural-born leader. He was born in Fontana, California, on January 4, 1985, to Steve and Debbie Weddle, members of the Lutheran Church. In high school, Weddle played baseball, basketball, and football, lettering in all three sports. In high school, he was already showing his versatility on the football field. He was a three-time All-League selection and a two-time All-CIF selection. He was team captain and was named the team’s Best Receiver and MVP as a senior.

While in high school, Weddle met Chanel Blaquiere. She was also an athlete, a star soccer player. He was impressed by her standards and personality. Later, he discovered that she's a Mormon. The two dated in high school, but then Chanel left on a soccer scholarship to Utah State. Weddle accepted a scholarship to the University of Utah. While at the University of Utah, Weddle felt a spiritual emptiness, and he admired the happy demeanor of his fellow teammates who were members of the Church. He expressed his admiration and consented to meet with the Mormon Missionaries. He was baptized in 2004. He and Chanel were married in the San Diego California Temple in July, 2005.

In college ball Weddle began to dazzle fans his freshman year. He earned Freshman All-American first-team and All-Mountain West Conference honorable mention. In 2004, Weddle shifted to strong safety, starting eleven games. Weddle earned Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year, first-team All-MWC, second-team All-American and Emerald Bowl Defensive MVP honors in 2005. [2]

The Eric Weddle Family, photo from Mormon Times

In 2006 Weddle was a consensus All-American and unanimous All-MWC first-team choice. He was again named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. In 48 games at Utah, Weddle started 45 times (9 at right cornerback, 12 at left cornerback, 6 at nickel back, 18 at strong safety). He set the school career record with nine forced fumbles and ranks sixth with six fumble recoveries, returning two for 66 yards and a touchdown. Nearing the end of an electrifying senior year, Doug Robinson of the Deseret Morning News wrote an article championing Weddle for the Heisman Trophy based on how valuable he was to the Utah Utes.

In the 2007 NFL draft,the Chargers traded the 62nd pick (2nd), 93rd pick (3rd), and a 2008 3rd rounder and 2008 5th rounder to the Chicago Bears for the right to move up to the 37th pick and select Weddle. This was a high price to pay, but Weddle was a desirable player. Again, his versatility on the field is his star quality, and his intelligence is notable.

Weddle saw plenty of action his first season, playing as the Dime safety and finished his rookie season with 48 total tackles, one sack and one interception along with 6 pass deflections while playing in one of the most talented secondaries in the NFL. At the start of the 2008 season, Weddle was officially named the starting free safety alongside Clinton Hart who was signed to a long-term contract extension in the offseason at strong safety.

In spite of his promising career in football, Weddle's greatest happiness comes from his family and faith.