Dylan Wieger, once a prized recruit for the East Tennessee State football team, has turned to coaching after a health issue has forced him away from playing the game.
“Due to medical issues, my eligibility is up, but I’ve been given an opportunity by Coach Sanders to stay on and help them any way I can,” Wieger said, not revealing what the issue is.
Wieger was a record-setting quarterback at Sullivan South. He sat out the 2015 season as a redshirt and was a backup to Austin Herink and Nick Sexton for two seasons. Being 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, he was moved to tight end last spring hoping to shore up the position. That’s where he was expected to open preseason camp, until he showed up at the first practice in coach’s gear and no helmet.
“He’s getting close to graduating, and we want to do everything we can to help him get his degree because he’s a great young man and he’s done everything asked of him since he’s been at ETSU,” Bucs coach Randy Sanders said. “He’s a smart guy, too smart to not have him doing something to help this football team. So we’re going to put him to work coaching.
“He’s been around, he’s mature, and he understands what we want to get done.”
Wieger’s role hasn’t been determined yet, but needless to say it will be on the offensive side of the ball. He spent time next to offensive coordinator Mike Rader signaling plays to the quarterbacks during recent practices.
“We’ll figure out how to best use him as we go along,” Sanders said.
It will be quite a change for Wieger, who figures he’s been playing football since he was in fourth grade.
“It’s something I’ve done my whole life,” he said. “So to be able to stay around the game in some sort is awesome. I knew this day was going to come eventually, so to be able to get to the other side of football, the Xs and Os, I’m excited about it.”
Wieger is majoring in biology and is a pre-dental student with a minor in business, so coaching wouldn’t seem to be a long-term career goal.
“At this point, I’ll keep all my options open,” he said.
Being on the other side of the game has opened Wieger’s eyes.
“Being around this staff, I’ve learned so much in the week I’ve been sitting there in these offensive meetings and watching film,” he said. “I’ve learned so much that I didn’t actually know about football by playing the game. The physical part of the game is one thing, but the mental is huge. Now I’m able to focus on that.”