Happy Birthday to the original Caprock Slot, Tech great Wes Welker. The former Patriot and Texan turns 38 today. He can probably still run a five-yard out better than 90% of the league.
Originally from Oklahoma City, Welker played his high school ball at Heritage Hall. The Daily Oklahoman twice named Welker the offensive player of the year (1998 and 1999). In 1998 he shared the award with future Heisman winner Jason White. He scored 80 touchdowns as a prep player and added 22 interceptions on the defensive side. He added seven punt return touchdowns and even kicked 35 field goals, including a 58-yarder.
The awards and stats didn’t do much for Welker on the recruiting trail, and he ended up walking on for first coach Mike Leach and Texas Tech.
Welker quickly proved his worth, catching 26 passes as a true freshman and rushing for a 12 yard average with a touchdown mixed in. He made his real bones as a return man with two returns for touchdowns and an 18 yard average on kick off returns. By 2001, as a sophomore, Welker caught 50 balls and returned another punt for a TD. By his junior year, Welker was one of the most dangerous receivers in the country with 86 catches, seven receiving scores, and three punts for touchdowns.
For his career, Welker returned eight punts for touchdowns, best in Big 12 history and second-best in NCAA history. His punt return against Texas A&M propelled the Red Raiders to a win at Kyle Field in a 48-47 instant classic.
All those numbers didn’t help much with the pros either. The NFL passed on Welker in the draft. All the better for the receiver, who signed with the Chargers who cut him after week one in a decision that Marty Schottenheimer later said was the biggest mistake he’d ever made. Welker caught on with the Dolphins where he played for three seasons before signing with the dark side and the Pats in 2007.
The rest is of course history. Welker made five Pro-Bowls, led the league in receptions three times, and played in a Super Bowl.
Happy Birthday, Wes. Run a few dig routes, have yourself a day.