Parker Hesse, Marcus Weymiller share their thoughts as NFL Draft approaches

Awaiting their football futures ... Former Waukon football teammates Marcus Weymiller and Parker Hesse (left to right) are pictured above early in their collegiate football careers at the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa, respectively. Now that those careers are completed, the two are waiting to see what their football futures may or may not hold as the NFL Draft is held later this week. Submitted photo.

It would be safe to say that nearly every little boy who has played the game of football growing up has, at some point, either dreamed of playing or pretended to play that game at the ultimate level of the National Football League (NFL). Although that dream has never been realized in this little corner of northeast Iowa, a pair of Waukon High School football teammates are standing on that doorstep of reality together as the NFL Draft approaches later this week, waiting to see if the door in front of them will be opened or not.

Former teammates and classmates Parker Hesse and Marcus Weymiller grew up playing football together, leading the Waukon Indian football team to the ultimate opportunity of a first-ever berth in the Class 2A State Championship game in program history during their senior football season in 2013. After coming inches away from realizing the dream of a state championship, both took their talents that led their team to that ultimate high school opportunity on to the next level, Hesse to the University of Iowa and Weymiller to the University of Northern Iowa.

Both wrapped up their respective collegiate careers this past year, both athletically with completion of the 2018 football season and academically with graduation with their respective degrees in December of this past year. The latest recorded achievements from their student-athlete collegiate career included both players being named to the National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society earlier this month, an honor bestowed upon starting players or reserves making significant contributions who carried a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.20 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) throughout their college career.

Hesse played to a career of multi-year All Big Ten Honorable Mention accolades for the Hawkeyes, along with other team and academic awards. Playing in 52 career games, including 47 as a starter, he recorded 182 tackles, 95 of those solo and 31 of those for a loss of 143 yards, including 14 quarterback sacks - 12 of them solo - for a loss of 95 yards. In addition to 11 passes defended, Hesse also recorded two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, as well as three fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles.

Weymiller wrapped up his UNI football career receiving All Missouri Valley Conference Honorable Mention this past fall after leading the Panther rushing attack with 964 yards and seven touchdowns on 235 carries while adding 151 more yards and two additional touchdowns on 17 pass receptions.

Weymiller finished his Panther career with more than 2,000 yards rushing and he was most recently named the University of Northern Iowa’s Male Scholar of the Year by the UNI Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, graduating with a cumulative grade point average of 3.97 as a Political Science major.

Completion of such careers at their respective Division I universities offered both Hesse and Weymiller the opportunity to participate in their school’s NFL Pro Day where athletes perform various skills and drills in front of NFL scouts. Although their respective collegiate careers came to a close prior to the new year, each athlete was able to continue to train and prepare himself for that Pro Day opportunity in the same facilities where they developed themselves further throughout their respective collegiate careers.

“I stayed in Iowa City to train for Pro Day with Coach (Chris) Doyle and the strength staff at Iowa,” Hesse shared. “We worked out four times a week strictly focusing on the six tests of pro day. Doyle does a tremendous job preparing us for everything Pro Day entails.”

“I trained with the UNI Strength and Conditioning staff at UNI from January up until Pro Day along with our quarterback and tight end,” Weymiller said.

In addition to their own training regimen at their respective schools, the former Waukon teammates also had an additional asset at their disposal in another recent former Indian who is very familiar to them. Frank Weymiller, a 2008 graduate of Waukon, is one of two older brothers to Marcus who played football at Coe College, and following a Division III All-American career for the Kohawks Frank was invited to his own NFL Pro Day in 2013 at Iowa State University.

“I did reach out to Frank and my former teammates at Iowa frequently, just to find out the things they wish they would’ve known ahead of time,” Hesse admitted.

The Pro Day workout for each player consisted of drills and workout skills similar to the NFL Combine, which consists of bench press repetitions of 225 pounds, vertical jump, broad jump, 40-yard dash, shuttle run, three-cone drill and other various drills that depend upon what position a particular player is working out for. In addition to his defensive end position he played for the Hawkeyes, Hesse also worked out on the offensive side of the ball at fullback and tight end during Iowa’s Pro Day Monday, March 25 in Iowa City.

“As far as testing goes I had a pretty good day, certainly enough to check the boxes,” Hesse said. “I had the opportunity to workout at multiple positions during on-field work, which really helped me, I believe. I did that just to show some versatility and being coachable, skills like that often go unnoticed but I was able to show them in the workout.”

Weymiller put his offensive skills on display during the UNI Pro Day held Tuesday, March 26 in Cedar Falls. “I didn’t do anything amazing, but I feel like I put up a solid performance all-around,” he said. “I caught the ball out of the backfield and during routes very well and feel like I was at the right size for Pro Day. I was happy to be able to showcase my skills in front of NFL scouts. It surely was a once in a life time experience and I gave it my all.”

A month has now transpired between their respective Pro Day workouts and this year’s NFL Draft being held this Thursday through Saturday, April 25-27 in Nashville, TN. Although their Pro Day events were certainly their opportunity to fully showcase their talents, both Hesse and Weymiller have continued to keep themselves in “football shape” in order to be ready for whatever opportunity may come along to put themselves and their skills on display once again, if necessary.

“Since Pro Day, I’ve been training for football again,” Hesse explained. “Other than that, I’ve been just hanging out enjoying my last few weeks living with my roommates in Iowa City.”

In addition to a continuing focus on football, Weymiller has also been working on plans for a future that may not include the sport he has loved and thrived at for most of his life. “I am focusing on the next step after football,” he shared. “I have been accepted into the University of Iowa Law School and Drake University Law School. I hope to make a decision by the end of April. In the meantime, I am still trying to stay in shape in case I get a call for a tryout, and I am working for my brothers until I attend law school.”

With the ultimate desired result of any football player’s Pro Day efforts being a call to play in the NFL, both Hesse and Weymiller realize that a Draft Day continuation of their football careers is likely not in the cards for either of them. However, both are hoping for additional opportunities to connect with a team or two in another effort to further prove their ability to play at that ultimate level. Both also admit that if none of their NFL aspirations become reality, they would still like to be able to keep football and sports as part of their lives in some manner after so many years of being involved.

“Obviously, being drafted would be an incredible experience, but it is more likely I’ll be an undrafted free agent,” Hesse clarified. “I really enjoy football so I plan on giving the NFL my total focus for a while. I could definitely see myself coaching someday, not sure which level though. I don’t think I could handle coaching college football with the way recruiting is now. High school football sounds like the most fun.”

Weymiller shared his own sentiment, explaining, “I am hoping to get an invite to an NFL team’s rookie mini-camp. If that does not come, I am ready to have my athletic career come to a close and move onto the next chapter of life. I would love to be able to be tied to athletics in some way. I may pursue coaching or administrative positions associated with sports in the future.”

Hesse’s knock on the NFL door has gotten some initial answerings. “The Detroit Lions came to Iowa City and worked me out a couple weeks ago,” He said. “My agent and I have gotten calls from a handful of teams. We’re basically just trying to decipher which teams are most interested and of those teams which would be the best fit for me. That way once the draft is over I can hopefully sign with the team I have the best chance of making the roster.”

Although Weymiller may not view the possibility of an NFL future for himself as brightly as his former teammate, he is still very grateful for all that has transpired to even give him the opportunity to consider that possibility. “I am very thankful for all the support I have received from those in northeast Iowa,” he shared. “I’m extremely thankful for all my past teammates and coaches. I was truly blessed to have the athletic career I did. ‘But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.’ - Philippians 3:7-8.”

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