TROY – Troy’s football camp got much more interesting for fifth-year senior fullback Zacc Weldon on Wednesday.
The Trojans were in full pads for the first time since camp opened last Friday.
“I just turn a switch, man,” said the 6-foot, 244-pound senior from Skipperville, who has started every game at fullback since his redshirt freshman season in 2016. “I play fullback, I’m a heavy hitter. So without pads on I can’t do much. Well, I can’t do as much as I’d like to do.
“But as soon as I put pads on I get excited, I get happy. I’m ready to go.”
Weldon said there isn’t a lot different at camp.
“Every camp has its similarities,” he said. ‘There’s not much difference. It’s the heat, it’s the same stuff trying to get rolling. But this is my fifth camp, so I know what to do. I did have one day that was a little rough, but getting going was a lot easier. First day in pads I felt really good. I’m excited for it.”
The former walk-on was a Dothan Eagle Super 12 standout at G.W. Long in 2013 and 2014, helping the Rebels roll to a combined 37-3 record those two seasons. He gained around 3,600 yards on the ground and scored 50 touchdowns in those two years.
That has not been his role in college. In his first two years at Troy, he recorded no statistics – no carries, no receptions. Last season he caught a pass for three yards, frustrated that he was stopped on the 1-yard line. He is a fullback, an offensive lineman trapped behind the line. He loves it. He said his best feeling is “just making a great block.”
“We run a lot of zone,” Weldon said. “I call it a ‘give’ block, you’ve got to dig a D-end. (Running back) B.J. (Smith), a lot of time, will cut back. So getting a good dig on (the end)him, pushing him out and having B.J. run right off my butt knowing he’s made a good run because I made that block? Man, that’s a great feeling.”
Troy head coach Chip Lindsey said Weldon’s role in Troy’s offensive may not grab headlines, but it certainly commands respect.
“He’s a huge part of our offense in our two-back sets,” Lindsey said after Wednesday’s two-hour practice. “He’s got a lot of experience, plays really physical, plays with great pad level.
“He doesn’t get a lot of credit sometimes that he deserves. One of those guys that never gets mentioned, but he’s a huge part of our team. Had a little hamstring this summer and looks like he’s back from that. He’s a guy that’ll help us make our run game go.”
Weldon called Smith “a dude,” but added all of the Trojan running backs fit that description.
“If B.J. needs a break, I trust the next guy,” said the fullback, who also lines up as an H-back or S-back, in Troy’s vernacular. “We’ve got Jabir Frye, Charles Strong, DK (Billingsley), all of them are dudes. I know as long as I make my block they’re going to make something happen.”
He also recognized the advantage of Troy returning four full-time starters on the offensive line and a fifth, Enterprise’s Dylan Bradshaw, who has seen extensive playing time.
“There’s a lot of chemistry there,” Weldon said. “We joke around, have a good time together. It really helps out on the field because we know how each other are going to play.”
Going into his fifth camp, Weldon acknowledged that there isn’t much that surprises him from a defense.
“Usually, if something new pops up I’ve seen it before,” he said. “I can usually adjust as long as I see it pre-snap.”
It’s hot: Lindsey said the first day in full pads had “some good and some bad.”
“We’re going to have to push through a little bit when it gets hard,” the coach said. “It’s hot. But it’s hot everywhere. Everybody we play is practicing in this same heat. We’ve got to learn to handle it a little better. I think our guys will respond tomorrow.”
Lindsey said typically the intensity rises when the full pads go on. After the Trojans’ first off day of camp on Tuesday, the coaches did a deep dive in the film room and Lindsey was encouraged by what he saw.
“From the day before, I saw our guys push and extend themselves a little bit,” he said of Monday’s practice. “That’s what we’re looking for. We can all have great energy and enthusiasm when we start, but as a game goes and practice goes, our guys have to learn to push.
“They did that (Monday). Today the bear jumped on them a little bit the second half of practice. Some guys did push through, but we’ve got to get everybody. It’s got to be 100 percent.”