WAYNE COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – Elijah Wellman is a Wayne County boy, a former West Virginia University fullback and currently signed to a futures contract with the Washington Redskins. Wellman knows he has a hard fight ahead of him to make the final roster, but it’s the moments that got him here that matter most.
“It’s a blessing really. Every little thing in life makes you who you are and football has made me who I am today,” says Wellman.
Born into a football family, Wellman’s grandfather was the president of the local youth league and his father was one of his very first coaches.
“My dad was a little harder on me than all the other kids because I was his son. That made me the football player I am today too,” Wellman adds.
“I always told my kids from a young age ‘I can tell you what you did wrong on the way home and your mom can tell you how good you are’,” says father, Brian Wellman, who believes the game has a deeper meaning than X’s and O’s.
Brian adds, “It teaches you how to be humble when you win, it teaches you to be gracious in defeat, it teaches you teamwork, it teaches you how to respect others, respect the game. I tell my kids all the time that if all you get from this is football then I have failed you.”
Wellman took a trip down memory lane remembering those who have been there for the ride.
“I swear I got chill bumps thinking about it and then when I watch it you get chill bumps again like dang that’s awesome those were the days,” Wellman says.
His parents, big brother Zach, and little sister Sophie have been there for him through it all.
“I can’t thank my parents enough they have been with me every step of the way and not everyone can say that,” he says.
This past season they stood at the Spring Valley Timberwolves 50-yard line during Wellman’s High School Jersey retirement ceremony. The first in program history.
“What he did here changed the face of the program,” says Spring Valley head coach, Brad Dingess.
“It was kind of nice too because Zach wore it- our older son, Elijah wore it then Jonah our nephew wore it so it is kind of like the Wellmans had that number for the last ten years and to see it retire is pretty special,” adds Wellman’s father.
After high school, the Wayne County native went on to represent his state as a Mountaineer…taking the field at West Virginia University.
13 News asked, “Being from West Virginia being from a blue-collared area… does that come out for how you played?”
“Yeah absolutely…blue collar work hard, you know my dads taught me that. I am kind of a gritty mean player. Football is not nice so you go out there and try to be as mean and as physical as you can,” says Wellman.
Eventually, the grit and grime of the gridiron will leave Wellman with a college education, the love, and support of his family and community and memories to last a lifetime.
“I’ve really grown into a man through this whole experience,” he adds.
Wellman’s journey to the pros hit some adversity after signing with the Redskins last season as an undrafted free agent. He was injured in the first preseason game, landing on the injured reserve list and eventually waived, but with a futures contract currently in hand he isn’t giving up. He returns to the Redskins facilities in April.