Matt Weller grew up in Twinsburg, Ohio, and as a young athlete, watched Zoltan Mesko kick and punt his way from Twinsburg High School to the University of Michigan and later, the NFL’s New England Patriots.
Nearly 10 years later and after a record-setting career at Ohio University, Weller is looking to carry on that tradition of kicking excellence.
“That would be amazing, and that’s the goal,” Weller said at a recent workout with the Browns. “It’s a tough goal to have, and he obviously did it, and he’s still doing pretty well. To follow in those footsteps, that will be a challenge, but it’s a challenge worth chasing.
“In my college career, I’ve seen about every opportunity. To learn from those experiences, I think it gives me a leg up on most other guys who haven’t played for a full four years and had the amount of opportunities that I’ve had.”
After red-shirting during the 2008 season, Weller converted individual and school records with 21 made field goals and earned Freshman All-America recognition. It was tied for the best mark among freshman kickers.
During his junior season, Weller set 11 school records, five career and six single-season marks, when he converted 25 of 34 field-goal attempts (73.5 percent), and 48 of 49 extra points. His 123 points scored as a junior were a team record.
“It was kind of the culmination of three years, having a lot of attempts,” Weller said of the success as a junior. “That year, that’s when the records started breaking and I was fortunate to have a lot of attempts and be on a pretty high-scoring offense. It was an honor.”
For his career, Weller converted 80 of his 108 field-goal attempts, 169 of 178 extra-point tries and scored 409 points, and oftentimes, did so in less-than-ideal weather conditions in Mid-American Conference play.
“The cold comes upon us pretty quick during football season, and we play a fair number of games in the cold and the wind, early-morning games, late-night games in November,” Weller said. “We’ve seen our fair share of wind, and that comes with the territory, being in the Midwest in the fall.
“Being up here in Cleveland, I experience the weather, and it’s pretty similar to what it is in Athens (Ohio). It’s not an easy place to kick.”
Since the end of his college season, Weller has spent time visiting with various kicking coaches and found indoor locations to kick in around the Cleveland area, but while the directions and locations have changed, his approach to kicks have not.
“Every kick should be taken the same way, for the most part, unless you’re considering the conditions and the wind,” Weller said. “Hitting a nice and smooth ball, you should have enough range for the long kicks as it does the short kicks.
“I just try to trust the process and trust my preparation on game day. I have faith that a good outcome will happen.”