Area grads deWeaver, Ouellette, Finke a college football hit

Messiah deWeaver kept hearing about a Netflix documentary series that was a hit, especially among college football players. The more he tuned into “Last Chance U,” the more he liked it.

“There’s some things on there that are pretty good,” said deWeaver, a former standout quarterback first at Trotwood-Madison and then at Wayne high schools. “It’s all good.”

Count deWeaver as the “good” at East Mississippi Community College after leading the undefeated Lions to their fifth national championship in eight seasons last week.

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It’s been a banner college football season for deWeaver and two other prominent area products:

• Covington High School graduate and Ohio University redshirt senior running back A.J. Ouellette was named the Mid-American Conference player of the year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus.

• Senior receiver Chris Finke, an Alter grad who walked on at Notre Dame, had a breakout season for the unbeaten Irish and also is in contention for a college football playoff national championship.

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deWeaver was among the nation’s most sought-after QBs as a senior at Wayne in 2015. He was the starting QB in two state-final losses at Trotwood and was Wayne’s starter in a loss to Lakewood St. Edward in the 2015 Division I state title game.

That, along with 7,624 career passing yards and 90 touchdowns, was enough to entice Michigan State to sign him. But after two seasons deWeaver had appeared in just one game with the Spartans, a four-play, three-sack meltdown in a 48-3 loss at Ohio State in 2017.

With now-junior Brian Lewerke entrenched as the MSU quarterback, deWeaver bolted for Scooba, Mississippi, population 732 (as of a 2010 census), but growing national cable television audience.

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He was everything he wasn’t at Lansing, passing for 1,735 yards and 10 touchdowns. More important, EMCC defeated Garden City CC (Kansas) 10-9 to complete a 12-0 season and win a National Junior College Athletic Association championship at Pittsburg State University (Kansas) on Nov. 29.

“I was very successful in the season and everything has worked out,” said the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder from the EMCC campus earlier this week. “My plan was to go and win a national championship and I did that. I was able to finally win a championship.”

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He also plans to be enrolled at an NCAA D-I school by next month and has two years of immediate eligibility remaining. According to 247Sports, Akron, Central Michigan, Louisiana, Old Dominion and Southern Miss have made offers. He’s ranked a three-star prospect and the No. 3 ranked JUCO pro-style QB by 247Sports.

“I definitely have a lot more to prove,” he said. “I want to return to Division I and I’m excited to be able to prove myself. I’m looking for the best fit. I’ll go anywhere.”

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• Like Finke, Ouellette was a walk-on with the Bobcats, quickly won over coach Frank Solich and has steadily made a lasting impression on OU’s record book.

Ouellette rushed for career highs of 1,142 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. The stout 5-10, 209-pounder saved his best for last, rushing for 165 or more yards in the last three games, including a career-high 196 on Buffalo in the regular-season finale.

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That vaulted him to third among OU’s all-time career rushing leaders (3,620 yards), fourth for career rushing TDs (32) and fifth in career 100-yard rushing games (13). OU (8-4) will play San Diego State (7-5) in the DXL Frisco Bowl at Frisco, Texas, at 8 p.m. on Dec. 19 (ESPN).

Ouellette will be honored in the 64th Touchdown Club of Columbus Awards at Express Live! in the Arena District on Feb. 9.

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• Generously listed at 5-10 and 155 pounds as a senior at Alter, Finke turned heads when he announced he was walking on at Notre Dame. By training camp as a sophomore, he had earned a scholarship.

He’s now 25 pounds heavier, still fleet and a fan favorite for his engaging Instagram posts ( Count USC as a believer after Finke put a season-high seven catches for 86 yards and a score on the Trojans in a 24-17 ND victory that completed an unbeaten regular season.

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That boosted his career season to 47 catches, 547 yards receiving and two scores. Alter teammate and senior safety Nick Coleman also is a main contributor for the Irish defense and Marion Local freshman John Dirksen is a reserve offensive lineman.

Notre Dame (12-0) will play Clemson (13-0) in the college football playoff and Cotton Bowl at Arlington, Texas, at 4 p.m. Dec. 29 (ESPN).

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