Stan Weber prides himself on his objectivity when he discusses football on the radio, so the former Kansas State quarterback and current analyst held nothing back when his son told him he planned to play for the Wildcats as a walk-on four years ago.
“The reality of it is, when he walked on out of Bishop Miege High School, the chances of him ever getting on the field were less than 5 percent,” Weber said earlier this week at Big 12 Media Days. “I told him, ‘You will probably not get on the field.’ I can objectively say there was no way this kid was going to do that.”
Not exactly the encouraging words a son wants to hear from his father.
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“He sat me down and said, ‘This is going to be difficult,’” said Stanton, a senior receiver. “He told me, ‘This is going to be strenuous. It is going to be a college experience that is so different than all your friends. You are going to be sacrificing a lot. You don’t have to do this.’
“I just looked at him and said, ‘What are you talking about? I have been dreaming about this since I was 2.’”
Stanton continues to show resiliency today. The walk-on who grew up attending K-State games with his family has not only made it onto the field, he has been doing so for three consecutive seasons, appearing in 34 games. He has emerged as a dependable contributor on special teams and as a backup receiver. He has earned an athletic scholarship, and, most improbably of all, he has been voted a captain as a senior. His father was captain for K-State’s 1984 team.
Coach Bill Snyder is renowned for bringing out maximum potential from his walk-ons. Still, Stanton’s rise seems unique when you consider the majority of his contributions have come behind the scenes.
“He is so invaluable to our football team,” Snyder said, “because the players have so much respect for him, his work habits, his value system and what he brings to our program.”
K-State players best showed their respect for Weber during spring practices when they voted him captain. His career stats — one catch for 21 yards and 12 tackles — are barely noticeable in K-State’s media guide.
Yet, the three teammates that accompanied him to Dallas all say they voted for him.
“I have a ton of respect for Stanton,” said K-State cornerback Morgan Burns. “He came in as a walk-on, nobody knew anything about him. But he has character and integrity. In the summer we do a lot of individual things, and it is easy to skip some of them, but he is there for all of them and holds his teammates accountable to be there, too. He even keeps me accountable.
“If I am trying to cut the smallest corner in a workout, he is going to set me straight. He is a leader among the wide receivers. He takes a lot of pride in special teams and he does everything right.”
Added safety Dante Barnett: “He is the type of person that will tire you out in practice. He is always competing.”
Weber blushes when he hears those comments. As a team-first player, he has difficulty celebrating individual achievements.
He says the favorite part of his playing career has been setting the stage for big kickoff returns by making blocks that often go unnoticed. But when he does his job correctly, and the return man breaks free, he hears the roar of the crowd. They always give him goosebumps.
Even if he makes his way into the rotation at receiver this season, which Snyder says is possible, that will remain his favorite feeling on a college football field.
“I’m glad I play for a team that really appreciates special teams,” Weber said.
Not to mention a team that rewards its hardest workers.
“It’s a dream come true all the way around,” Weber said. “The expectation for it at the beginning was not there. It’s basically a gift from heaven. They didn’t have to play me or give me a scholarship. It’s not like I was leaving if they didn’t. But they said, ‘You deserve this.’ Earning it means a lot. It’s an accomplishment I know I can look back on and be proud of.”
It’s also a nice trump card he can use the next time he gets in an argument with dad.
“He has completely defied expectations,” Stan Weber said. “If I would have accomplished as much with what I had as he has, I would have been a lot better player. He has way surpassed me in the things that matter.”