Detroit's Mike Weber sees limited college duty as 'plus,' says playing for Lions would be 'crazy'
Indianapolis — Mike Weber might have left the state of Michigan to attend Ohio State, but on the cusp of realizing his NFL dream, the running back remains fueled by Detroit, the city he was born and raised.
"It's just home," Weber explained at the NFL Combine on Friday. "It's hard to explain. It's gritty. There's a lot of people there that's dedicated and driven to become better people. It's an upcoming city that I'm really proud to be a part of and I'm proud to say I'm from there. Any chance I get, I get back to that city.
"I think growing up in Detroit played a big part in how I play."
Weber was a standout at perennial powerhouse Cass Tech. He was branded a four-star recruit after running for more than 2,200 yards and scoring 29 touchdowns as a senior. He was originally on track to stay close to home, but decommitted from the University of Michigan shortly before the school fired Brady Hoke, flipping to Ohio State.
He briefly considered changing back to Michigan after the school hired Jim Harbaugh to replace Hoke.
"He was a cool guy, but I couldn't really get to know him in a few days before Signing Day," Weber said in 2015. "So I went with my gut and Ohio State."
After redshirting his freshman year, Weber ran for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns on 182 carries in 2016, his debut season. As part of a deep Buckeye backfield rotation, he continued to split carries the rest of his college career, something he sees as a benefit heading into the pros.
"Right now, I think it's a plus," Weber said. "At the time, you don't like it. At the time, you want the ball. At the time, you want to be able to show the world what you can do with the opportunities you get, but I feel like a lot of these teams now are looking at guys with less tread on their tires. I think I got the ball 300 times in my career, which is not a lot, a lot of guys get 300 a year and I felt like that was a plus."
Weber, who measured in at 5-foot-10, 211 pounds, isn't viewed as one of the top backs in this draft class. Most analysts project him as a mid- to late-round pick. He's seen those opinions.
"I'm being a little slept on right now and that's something I can't control," Weber said. "All I can control is to come out here and give it my best and show these teams why I should be at the top."
Weber's hometown team, the Lions, figure to be in the market for a back this offseason. He grew up a huge fan of the team, but acknowledged he can't be a fan of any one team these days, as he prepares being drafted by any of the league's 32 franchises.
But he's allowed himself to at least imagine the possibility of returning home.
"A lot of people back home mention that a lot of times and I think it would be cool," Weber said. "Anywhere I go would be cool. Detroit, that would be crazy. I played all my high school games in there, all my city championships, all my state championships in that stadium."