Top football prospect makes mission priority

LIBERTY, Miss. — Brad Weathers always knew he would serve a mission — no matter the cost.

Even if it meant putting off football and school for two years.

Even if it meant disappointing high school coaches and friends.

Even if it meant giving up a $70,000 athletic scholarship.

So when Mississippi State University officials called Brad, a 6-foot-6-inch, 335-pound lineman, offering a full-ride scholarship — which could not be held for two years — he did not hesitate: a mission, he told them, is far more important than football.

"He kept telling [MSU] all along, 'I will fulfill a mission for my church," said Brad's mother, Patricia Weathers. "They still kept building him up, hoping that he would turn a mission down. Everyone told him, 'You will not get another opportunity like this.' "

Knowing that he might not get another offer, Brad determined to enter the mission field and then play for a junior college when he came home — just as his older brother Max had done. Max, like Brad, could have played football at a major university but, instead, opted to serve a mission. He returned from the Utah Provo Mission, married and is a 340-pound lineman at Southwest Community College. And is, said Brad, "really doing good."

However, Brad — who has accepted a call to the Idaho Boise Mission and will enter the Missionary Training Center in Provo Dec. 16 — will still get to play for Mississippi State. They called a few weeks after Brad turned down the scholarship with news that they were going to hold his spot until he returned from the mission field.

"It was really a testimony builder," said Brad. "If you put the Lord first He will take care of you."

Brad, a member of the Liberty Ward, Denham Springs Louisiana Stake, was recruited by 18 or 20 major universities before any found out his missionary plans. Most, however, lost interest when Brad repeatedly explained his intentions to leave school for two years.

"Serving a mission was never really a decision; it was just something I was waiting to do," said Brad, who graduated from early-morning seminary last spring after serving two years as class president. "Our family talked about [missionary work] from the time I was really little."

Sister Weathers said one of her sons' biggest motivations for serving missions was the example of their father, Fridge Weathers, who died in 1991 of cancer.

"Their father filled a mission in Japan," she explained. "He loved missionary work and was always involved in it. He was stake mission leader for many years."

When her husband died, Sister Weathers was left to raise their six children, all under the age of 16. "The Lord has really blessed us," she said. "[My children] have had great people around them at Church."

Brad said his parents have been a real inspiration to him. His mother, he said, helped him get up in the morning for early morning seminary and always led by example.

His father, who never got to see him play football, promised him before his death that a mission would get him ready for life. "Basically, he told us, 'You will go as far as the work you will do on your mission,' " said Brad. "Since then, missionary work was something I wanted to do." — Sarah Jane Weaver

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