INK IN THE BLOOD
There was never any question about his athletic ability and if you spent a little time talking to Sean, you understood that he is a special young man.
Sean is Jasper’s initial National Football League first round draft choice. The Atlanta Falcons made him the 19th player picked in last spring’s NFL draft and as of this column’s writing, he is challenging for a starting linebacker position.
First round draft choices become instant millionaires. Sean signed a five-year contract with Atlanta, valued at $17.5 million.
He is guaranteed $10.5 million of the contract but Sean will earn the entire amount. If he’s lucky enough to avoid serious injury, he will play many years.
A Jasper background is no doubt beneficial to high school football players who want to go beyond that level.
A number have played college and pro football.
The Weatherspoon family name is not without its magic—a cousin, Teresa, played in the Women’s National Basketball Association after a successful college and Olympic career.
Sean’s late uncle, Clarence (Coach Spoon) coached Jasper Bulldog football linemen for many years but his biggest mark was in track and field where he won 16 straight district titles and four state championships.
Several Jasper Bulldogs have distinguished themselves not only in high school and college but in the pro ranks as well.
Joseph Anthony “Red” Bryant went to Texas A&M and was drafted in the fourth round by the Seattle Seahawks, where he still starts at defensive end.
Eugene Seale was undrafted by the pros out of Lamar University but the running back played six years for the Houston Oilers.
Another Jasper running back, James Hadnot, played at Texas Tech then with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Tight end John Davis went to Emporia (Kan.) State College and played seven years for the Chicago Bears.
Derick Armstrong played wide receiver at Arkansas-Monticello before going pro with the Saskatchewan Roughriders one year and the Houston Texans for three seasons.
Zack Bronson spent seven years as a defensive back with the San Francisco 49ers after playing at McNeese State University.
Ben Bronson was a wide receiver at Baylor University, then for the Indianapolis Colts.
He and his twin bother Bryan (later an Olympian) formed half of a national high school recordsetting 400-meter relay team that turned in a 39.9-second time.
So, Sean has an outstanding hometown athletic legacy.
He started as a junior wide receiver and linebacker on the 2004 Jasper Class 3A finalist team that lost to Gilmer 49-47 in what many have called the best high school football game in history.
Sean made an impact athletically in Jasper beginning in junior high school. Anyone who watched the son of Develous and Elwanda Weatherspoon knew he was a leader.
His skills and leadership extended beyond football in high school. Sean was a serious if not exceptional student academically and his competitive spirit underscored his leadership in just about any high school undertaking.
To college recruiters, Sean’s football forte was defense and he received a full scholarship to the University of Missouri where he developed into an all-conference and second team All-American linebacker.
In high school, accolades came Sean’s way in three sports—basketball and track was well as football. He was all-district in basketball and was a major force in some track team championships.
While his athletic skills have made headlines, his ability with people is more impressive.
Once, on a trip from college to see Jasper play, Sean spotted me in the stands, made his way up 15 rows to my seat, gave me a big bear hug and thanked me for our newspaper’s “help” for his career.
Sean will do well in life.
Willis Webb is a retired community newspaper editor-publisher of more than 50 years. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.