By Matthew Asher
Franklin De’Sean “Sean” Weatherspoon, LB #56
Hometown: Greenville, South Carolina
Experience: 3rd year
Better known throughout the Falcons community as “Spoon,” Sean was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the 19th overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Despite having only two full NFL seasons under his belt, Spoon has proven to be one of the keys to the Falcons defense.
Growing up in Jasper, Texas, Spoon attended Jasper High School. In addition to being a standout football player, Sean was a Texas All-State high jumper in track and as a basketball guard, he was named to the All-District team.
Football was where Sean really excelled. As a sophomore in 2003, Weatherspoon was named the District 22-3A defensive newcomer of the year. He recorded 101 tackles, 1 sack and two interceptions. He continued to improve and in his junior year he tacked up 105 tackles, 2 sacks and three interceptions. Proving that he wasn’t just a one-dimensional player, Sean doubled as a wide receiver and finished with 27 catches for 428 yards and 7 TD catches. Spoon was a 1st Team All-District selection his junior year.
As a senior, Weatherspoon was the 2006 recipient of the defensive Willie Ray Smith Award in addition to being named the Texas District 22-3A player of the year. His numbers weren’t as impressive as his junior year, but still good. Sean registered 98 tackles, 4 sacks and 2 interceptions.
Despite his awards, Weatherspoon wasn’t a highly coveted recruit. Rivals.com listed Spoon as just a two-star recruit. Sean decided to play for the University of Missouri Tigers. Spoon made an immediate impact for the Tigers as one of just four true freshmen to play for Missouri. Although he didn’t start any games, he was involved in all 13 contests, primarily on special teams. Sean was named Mizzou’s special teams player of the year getting 9 of his 17 tackles on kickoff coverage.
As a sophomore for Mizzou, Spoon came into his own. As the starting weakside linebacker, he started all 14 games and led his team with 130 tackles. Rivals.com, the Associated Press and the San Antonio Express-News all selected Spoon as a member of the 2007 All-Big XII First Team for his efforts.
Weatherspoon’s junior year numbers continued to improve. He finished the season with 155 tackles, the second most in Mizzou history (Travis McDonald recorded 164 in 1994). Spoon also had 3 interceptions and returned 2 of them for touchdowns. In the 2008 Alamo Bowl, Weatherspoon recorded 17 tackles and was named the game’s defensive MVP as Mizzou defeated the Northwestern Wildcats in overtime 30-23.
After the Alamo Bowl, Sean announced he had filed for the 2009 NFL draft, just to see where he would rank, and did state he would return for his senior season. As a senior, Weatherspoon recorded a team-high 111 tackles, 4.5 sacks and one interception. Mizzou received a bid to play in the 2009 Texas Bowl in a losing effort against Navy 35-13.
In his rookie year playing for Atlanta, Spoon played 11 games, starting in five and had 43 tackles and one sack. Just like at college, Sean’s sophomore year was his coming out party. As the new starting outside linebacker, Spoon started all 16 games picking up 115 tackles, 4 sacks and one fumble recovery.
Although the 2012 campaign is only 25 percent completed for Atlanta, Spoon is currently on pace to record 104 tackles, eight sacks and four forced fumbles. One thing is for sure: Atlanta found another great player in the NFL draft.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.