POTW: Loyola's Weaver earns recognition

WILMETTE, Ill. -- Loyola junior Malcolm Weaver could have lied when asked if he had expected to be among the state's top quarterbacks this season.

Coaches normally want their starting quarterbacks to possess a level of confidence in which they believe they're capable of anything.

Not Weaver, though. Sure, he was optimistic and had some confidence in his ability. But to be passing for 1,513 yards and 22 touchdowns through seven weeks, Weaver couldn't lie about that. A smile crossed his face when asked about it, and he then answered truthfully.

"I didn't think I'd throw for as many touchdowns as I have or as many yards as I have," said Weaver, the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Week. "It's all a blessing right now. I'm going to continue off it and continue to try to do my best this year."

And to think, Weaver wasn't even sure he was going to be Loyola's starting quarterback when the season began. After battling for the position with a few others during preseason camp, Weaver discovered just days before the season-opener from Ramblers coach John Holecek that he would be the starter.

Looking back, Weaver wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

"I love competition," Weaver said. "I don't like things being handed to me. I like to work for things. The whole competition was fun. It kept me on the edge."

Once Weaver won the job, he ran -- or passed -- with it. In his debut, he threw for three touchdowns against his hometown school: Evanston. He added three more touchdowns the next week against Montini. He threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns to knock off defending Catholic League champs Providence in the third week.

The pattern has continued as the weeks have gone by. His career day came against Brother Rice with 370 yards passing and six touchdowns. For the season, he's completed 97-of-172 passes and has Loyola in the Catholic League championship hunt with a 6-1 overall record and 3-1 in conference.

"We didn't know he'd be this good," Holecek said. "He's obviously developed over the season. He's gotten better and better. I think it's been experience. He's seeing a lot more. He sees the blitzes. He know the offense better. He knows the wide receivers better. I think it's everything."

Weaver is more comfortable now, especially in the pocket, than he was to start the season. A year ago, he would have considered himself a running quarterback. Now, he's a dual threat.

"I've always been a running quarterback," said Weaver, who is 5-11. "I've become more of a pocket passer this year. Pocket passing is fun, just watching everything open up in front of you. Everybody might feel pressure in staying in that pocket, but I like it. I like sitting in there knowing that the O-line has my back."

Weaver is quick to give credit where it is due. He may be receiving a lot of the headlines these days, but he believes it has to do more with his offensive line's play and that of his wide receivers, especially his favorite targets Charlie Dowdle and E.J. Webb.

Weaver -- along with his teammates -- weren't expected to achieve what they have this season. After last year's team went 11-2 and graduated a bulk of its players, expectations were lowered by most.

"They didn't rank us," Weaver said. "We came in with a lot to prove. We've proved it so far. There's still a lot of football to played. We're going to try to keep proving people wrong that we're a young team, but we still have what it takes to win a state championship."

Defeating undefeated St. Rita in Week 9 would go a long way in showing that. Even though Gordon Tech is this week's opponent, Weaver knows what's ahead for the Ramblers. Again, he wouldn't lie.

"Everybody knows about Rita," Weaver said. "We're not going to lie and say we're just looking at Gordon Tech. We know what Rita can do. There's obviously going to be doubters. We're a young team. St. Rita is more experienced, a lot of things like that."