Weis Jr. a rare asset for KU football

Spend a few minutes listening to a Charlie Weis press conference or reading an interview with the first-year Kansas head coach, and the words practically glow when he speaks of his family. But when asked directly about his son, Charlie Jr., he pulls back a bit - not because he's not proud, but because he prefers to let others do the talking for him.

First and foremost, Charlie Weis is a family man.

Just read one of his press conferences or interviews, and it's immediately evident. He practically glows when talking about his wife, Maura, and their two children, Charlie Jr. and Hannah.

Hannah is a special needs child, and Weis never misses an opportunity to talk about her or the non-profit organization he and Maura founded in 2004 - "Hannah & Friends" - dedicated to helping individuals like her. In the years since, the program has flourished - with services branching out from its base in South Bend, Ind. into Florida and, most recently, Kansas and the Kansas City metropolitan area - and "Hannah & Friends" has become central to the Weis clan's way of life.

But as the first-year head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks sat in his office, overlooking Memorial Stadium on a mid-June morning with a small group of reporters in attendance, he hesitated for a moment when the topic of his son was raised.

It's not that he's not proud of him. It's that he doesn't want to be "that guy." Everyone knows one. The guy who won't stop bragging on his own kid.

So instead of answering directly at first, he recounted a story involving running backs coach Reggie Mitchell.

It was early in Weis' tenure on Mount Oread, and Mitchell was still learning the ins and outs of the new offense. The bulk of it he picked up from the elder Weis, of course, but for most of the little questions and clarifications he turned to Charlie Jr.

Before long, Mitchell walked into Weis' office one day and delivered a startling compliment.

"He goes 'I just want you to know, your kid is ready for his own room,'" Weis recalled. "What that means, and this is Reggie's words, not mine - I'm 'Dad' so I'm not going to get too carried away here - but Reggie said he's ready to be a position coach at the Division One level."

Charlie Weis Jr. only recently turned 19 years old.

Of course, his path has been a little different than that of most who dream of prowling their own sideline one day - even those who grew up with coaches for dads themselves. At the same time Charlie Jr. was inhaling every scrap of his father's offense, learning how to break down game film before he'd even graduated high school, he had some other pretty good coaches - guys like Bill Belichick and Romeo Crennel - to bounce questions off of as well.

So advanced is his knowledge, in fact, that when the family was in the midst of its transition from Florida to Kansas, one NFL team contacted Weis to inquire as to whether his son might be interested in a quality control position. Not in a few years. Not after graduation.

Right now.

"I told him my wife would divorce me if I encouraged that to happen," Weis said, with a smile.

Already, Charlie Jr. is proving to be a rare resource for the Jayhawks. A student manager and offensive assistant, he's a natural liaison with the current team members because he is, for all intents and purposes, one of them - a student struggling to balance the full-time job of football with the demands of a college education.

Oh, and it doesn't hurt that he's a walking Charlie Weis encyclopedia - one without the terrifying power to make changes to the depth chart.

"The players all go to him because let's face it, the kid knows the offense as good as any assistant coach," Weis said. "And he's non-threatening because he's not the guy who decides who plays. That's what the position coaches do. So you're a new guy coming in - or you're a quarterback, or a wide receiver, or a tight end or a running back - why wouldn't you go to him?"

He's an asset on the recruiting trail as well. Not in the sense that he's out on the road, scouting players throughout the country with the other assistants. But when the recruits come to campus he's there, chatting up the prospects and their families - and typically surprising them with the depth of his knowledge.

Those unfamiliar with the recruiting scene may be surprised to learn just how frequently Charlie Jr. is mentioned by visitors to the University of Kansas. Take Jordan Darling, for example.

Darling is a recent transfer to the Kansas City area from Waco, Texas; a 6-foot-4, 230-pound quarterback with a monster arm. Basically the Charlie Weis prototype, which is probably why the Jayhawks were on him so early.

A couple of weeks after Darling committed to Kansas in early June, he attended the program's 'Friday Night Lights' camp to take advantage of the opportunity to work with his future coaches on the field for a few hours.

And one of the first coaches he mentioned? Charlie Weis Jr.

"He's a great guy to be around, but he's a great asset," Darling said. "Coach Weis explains it and I like his explanation the best. As a player, if you have a problem with a read or with the playbook and you don't necessarily want to ask the coach, you can ask Charlie Weis Jr."

"His son knows the offense as well as any of the offensive coaches, and it's a really useful tool," he added. "And aside from that he's really easy to talk to."

Despite the high praise pouring in from so many sources, Weis still prefers to remain reserved where his son is concerned and let others do the talking for him.

Well…mostly, anyway. And who could possibly blame him for engaging in a moment - just a moment - of fatherly conceit?

Nobody who knows what it's like to be a parent - that's for sure.

"He works with us probably 50 hours a week, and then he goes out and takes five classes, 15 hours, and gets a 4.0," Weis said, his pride evident in his voice. "I mean, what can you say about the kid?"

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