In Rhino Charge’s October feature, newly-retired Rhinos legend DeAnte Weldon sits down for his exit interview to discuss his career, and his plans to stay with the Rhinos as a coach.
GM: So I’ve been hearing a lot of rumors about you returning to play in the 2017 season. Are any of these rumors true?
DW: Nah man, I’m done.
GM: So, you’re going on the record and saying that you are officially retired?
DW: Yes sir.
GM: Why are you retiring?
DW: Bad shoulder injury, and just want try something new. I really want to get into coaching.
GM: Word has it that you will be coaching with the Rhinos this year. What’s your job title?
DW: Yeah, that’s “the word”, according to (co-owner and defensive co-ordinator) Adam (Bostian). I’m a DB coach, but we will see. I approached (head coach) Noah (Sneeringer) on letting me help him with offensive play-calling, seeing how he let me help last year, even as a player (chuckles).
GM: What is it about coaching that excites you the most?
DW: Knowing the game and the players I kno jus about every1 weakness and strong points.
GM: Do you think there are any specific moments from your playing career that have prepared you to be an effective coach?
DW: Being able to suggest plays to Noah and Adam and them being effective.
GM: What’s your favorite moment from your playing career?
DW: Man, that’s a tough one. If I had to choose, it would be the year me, David (Telp), Chase (Scharf), Charles (Smith), and Marquiss (Jackson) were on the team. Practice was classic moments, and in the game? You couldn’t tell us nothing!
GM: Take me back to when you first started playing football. What got you interested in the game?
DW: I was 7, playing Pop Warner for Gwynns Falls 49ers. My first year, I was a bum. I had a t-bone facemask and I played TE and cornerback. I couldn’t tackle to save my life. I was slow, and couldn’t catch. The following year, I came back better then ever. My coaches presented me with the most improved player award. I was tackling better and catching interceptions. That year, we went 8-0, and were our league champs. I still have my cemetery t-shirt somewhere around the house.
GM: You must have really loved to the game to work on it at such a young age and come back after that first season. Where did your inspiration come from to play football?
DW: Man, honestly, I don’t know. My dad didn’t play sports, so it’s weird that I loved to play and was actually good at it.
GM: How many years did you play semi-pro football?
DW: 2013, and 2015-16, all with the Rhinos.
GM: How would you sum up your career in a few words?
DW: Fun, competitive, great experience.
GM: We talked a little bit about how you joined the Rhinos, in an earlier interview. Go into detail a little bit more about the start of your Rhinos career.
DW: I joined mid-season. And loved it. Being back on the field felt great. My first season, I ripped a hole in my right hamstring. Talk about pain. I actually ripped it in a game against Charles County. I was running for a touchdown when I heard a pop, and couldn’t move my leg anymore. I had stopped on the 10. I felt like bait in shark-infested waters. Few seconds later, I’m gettting cleaned right off my feet. My first year was a good year. We missed out on the playoffs by 2 points that season, against Tri-State Storm.
GM: How heartbreaking was it that year, having a winning record but not making the playoffs?
DW: It hurt, but we knew where we messed up.
GM: Where did you guys mess up?
DW: A few key turnovers. That killed us. And also, injuries took a big part of our season.
GM: Who got hurt?
DW: I was new, I didn’t know everybody, but they were key players.
GM: What was it like being the new guy on the team?
DW: It’s cool, just made sure the first impression was a good one. First thing I heard was, ‘wow, he’s fast’. I initially came to play WR, but they had other plans apparently. I ended up playing RB.
GM: What were some of your highlights from that first season?
DW: Big runs, I played kickoff, also, I forced and recovered 2 fumbles.
GM: What’s your favorite run you had that year?
DW: Me and a cornerback where talking big (expletive) all game. So, I finally got the sweep to his side. No juking or shaking, I was like Adrian Peterson wen he ran William Gay over. All you heard was the crowd go ‘ooooooohh’. I got up, laughed, asked him if he was ard, because he was still down.
GM: Tell me about 2014. After the near miss of 2013, what were the expectations coming into the 2014 season?
DW: I missed 2014 due to personal reasons, but I still had my ear to the team that lost in the playoffs that year.
GM: Was it difficult not playing that year?
DW: Yeah, it was, but I got through it. Came back next season balling harder then ever.
GM: The 2015 season was your favorite of all, why was it so special to you?
DW: Honestly, was the team we had, the players made it special. Especially playing alongside my lil’ cousin David Telp (R.I.P), older cousin Marquiss Jackson, and my boy PJ (Peter Goines). Team just was too fun. Even when we lost, we still couldn’t wipe a smile off our face, we just knew how to have fun.
GM: Marquiss said playing alongside family was extra special that year. What was it like for you to play with family?
DW: Was special, it made us closer. We pushed each other to play at full potential.
GM: What was the comfort level like when you were all on the field for plays at the same time?
DW: Comfort at an all-time high, we just knew each other was going to handle their job.
GM: The Rhinos started 0-4 that year. What was that like?
DW: It was rough, because it wasn’t like we were gettting blown out. We were losing close, hard-fought games.
GM: The comeback that season all started with a win over the rival Carroll County Cannons. Describe that game for me.
DW: We were down in that game, Bob (Moore) pulled through a good game to bring us back.
GM: The Rhinos were down 14-0 at halftime. What was it like playing during that game?
DW: Fast, exciting, irritating. Everything all at once (chuckles).
GM: What was so irritating?
DW: When certain plays wouldn’t work when everybody was arguing, because we losing, just your basic stuff.
GM: One of the major themes of that game was the Rhinos playing against their old head coach, Jimmy Moffitt. What did this mean to you?
DW: Just another game for real. Me and Moffitt didn’t have no bad blood. He told me at the end of the game that he game-planned against me, not knowing we had other skill positions elsewhere.
GM: Was the win extra special for some of the guys on the team because Moffitt was the opponent?
DW: Yeah. I know Adam was definitely loving it (chuckles).
GM: What effect did that win have on the rest of the season?
DW: Big effect.
GM: Was that last month of the season the most fun month you had during your playing career, and why?
DW: Honestly, just because. Teammates became family. Moments we had you can never take away. I would love to go back, just so I could play beside David one more time, just one more down. One more play me telling him to rush the edge, just so I can watch a big hit.
GM: How much did you enjoy signing autographs for the children on Kids’ Day at the end of the season?
DW: That’s always fun. Kids’ Day is always fun. Never know how many kids are fans of you.
GM: How special was it to finally make the playoffs that year?
DW: Very special. We overcame a lot to make it there.
GM: Was that playoff game the hottest game you’ve ever played in?
DW: Nah, it wasn’t. It was just good to be in the playoffs.
GM: Just a few months ahead of the 2016 season, 13 players left the Rhinos and went to play for York. Was that a difficult time for you, seeing so many friends leave the team?
DW: Yeah, but it’s part of the game. York was no different from us, they didn’t win the championship. I believe in loyalty, but for those that switch, more power to you.
GM: How difficult was it to go 2-8?
DW: Very, but I’m not mad. We had a bunch of rookies. It’s hard, when you never really played semi-pro, to come in and try to go all the way. It’s all a rebuilding process. I feel Rhinos will be in play form really soon.
GM: Was that one of the reasons you wanted to coach, so you could help the young guys?
DW: Of course. Anything to be close to the field, especially helping those that have no experience find their perfect position.
GM: Not many players get to finish their career the way you did. You scored a touchdown on your last ever play. What does that mean to you?
DW: It means a lot. I played every down like it was my last, and I loved that it was with the Rhinos. (Co-owner) Chris Bunty and Adam are great people to play for. I have nothing but respect for the two. I appreciate the opportunity that they allowed me- to play for them.
GM: When did you know you were going to retire?
DW: Not until a few months after the season.
GM: Did you mess up your shoulder on that last touchdown run?
DW: Yes, unfortunately. Yeah, it was depressing.
GM: Which did you enjoy more, playing offense or defense?
DW: I loved playing both, honestly.
GM: Which did you enjoy more, giving a big hit, or scoring a touchdown?
DW: Aaahhhhhh, hard to choose. I would say scoring a touchdown. It always feels good to put your team’s points up.
GM: Over the years, what have all the friendships you’ve built through your football career meant?
DW: Met a lot of good people man, even from other teams. Football is a brotherhood. I encourage all youth to play. You never know the type of people you going to meet. You meet some lifetime friends.
GM: Any regrets from your career?
DW: Honestly, no. I’ve enjoyed my career, but like all things, stuff comes to an end.
Thanks for reading our feature interview of the month. You can catch a new feature interview each month during the offseason here on Rhino Charge, your official home for Hanover Rhinos news and notes. Check the monthly preview cover at the beginning of the month to see who will be the subject of our feature interview.