AP NEWS

Wellman eager to run with Redskins, could make Wayne history

May 6, 2018 GMT

HUNTINGTON — As captain of West Virginia University’s football team, fullback Elijah Wellman took great pride in carrying out the state flag each time the Mountaineers took the field for a game in Milan Puskar Stadium.

While Wellman won’t be carrying the flag as he begins NFL rookie mini camp with the Washington Redskins, he will proudly take the state with him as he embarks on his future. The former Mountaineer and Spring Valley High School leader signed a deal with the Redskins as an undrafted free agent and was to take part in rookie mini camp Friday and Saturday.

“I had a few calls from some other people, but I made a list (of NFL teams) from Nos. 1 to 32 with my agent on the best fit and the Redskins were in the top five,” Wellman said. “When they offered me, I couldn’t pass it up because they were a good fit for me.”

For the 6-foot-3, 235-pound fullback, Washington presents a unique opportunity. The Redskins did not have a fullback on the 2017 roster, instead opting to use a tight end in two-back situations.

That means Wellman is looking to showcase his abilities and prove that he can fit whatever need is deemed necessary by the coaching staff.

“I’m going to go in there, try to smack some heads around and show them what I’ve got,” Wellman said. “One reason that I think they liked me is because I’m a bit versatile. I’ve got to prove that to them that I can go out in the flat and catch the football and get upfield while also blocking linebackers — anything they need me to do so that I don’t have to come out of the game.”

While the free-agent signing begins a new chapter for the former Spring Valley two-way standout, it also closes the book on a collegiate career that Wellman said will stay with him forever.

In 2017, Wellman was voted as a team captain and later received the Ed Pastilong Award, which is given to WVU players who exhibit outstanding work ethic and on-field ability, along with character and academic accomplishment off the field and in the community.

“It was a dream come true for me to go to Morgantown and play for four years and be a senior captain on the team, representing the university, my team and my state,” Wellman said. “That’s an honor that not many people get to say they did. I was very blessed to have that opportunity, just like I’m blessed to have this one. Hopefully, I can go up there and make the people back home proud.”

In addition to being proud of being from West Virginia, Wellman is also extremely fond of his home county of Wayne and growing up on Buffalo Creek.

And there’s one thing Wayne County does not have to its credit, yet, according to Pro Football Reference’s list of NFL players from West Virginia.

West Virginia boasts of 177 NFL players all-time, according to the list. Not one of them came from Wayne County.

In that sense, Wellman feels his career has a bigger importance — much like his playing days at West Virginia for a university in his home state.

“It’s putting on for the hometown, the Buffalo area and Wayne County,” Wellman said. “Everyone follows along, so it’s exciting to be able to put them on the map and show that we’ve got some athletes in Wayne County that shouldn’t be overlooked.”

As Wellman attempts to make the Redskins’ 53-man roster, he’s going to attempt to prove that he has everything demanded of an NFL player — strength, speed, ability, leadership.

There’s also one thing he won’t do.

If he makes the Redskins’ roster, there’s no chance he’ll ever forget where he came from.