Thursday, 15 February 2024 13:45

From Saratoga to the NFL: Anthony Weaver’s Journey to the Miami Dolphins

Photo of Weaver as assistant head coach for the  Baltimore Ravens by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire. Photo of Weaver as assistant head coach for the Baltimore Ravens by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — If not for his time in Saratoga Springs, Anthony Weaver might’ve never made it to the NFL. 

Blaise Juliano, who would become Weaver’s high school football coach, heard that Weaver was a great athlete, and went to the junior high gym to recruit him into the football program. Juliano said he put his arm around Weaver and said, “Tony, I know you’re a great athlete and I know you love basketball, but I think you should consider football.” Weaver took Juliano up on the offer. “We laugh about it,” Juliano said. “That’s where you are today because I happened to go down and look [you] up in junior high.”

Weaver started playing football for the Saratoga Springs Blue Streaks in 1995, when he was in 9th grade. The next year, he was brought up to the varsity team, where he played offensive guard. For the next three years, Weaver played for Coach Juliano. By the time he was a senior, he was being actively recruited by colleges with elite football programs. 

According to Juliano, Weaver weighed 238 pounds when he last played for Saratoga. The next game Weaver played, he was a starter for Notre Dame and weighed 255 pounds. “I thought that was pretty impressive,” Juliano said. After an accomplished college career at Notre Dame, Weaver was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the second round of the 2002 NFL Draft.

Weaver ended up playing in Baltimore for four years, then with the Houston Texans for another three years. During his playing career, he had 200 tackles, 15.5 sacks, and 57 assisted tackles. As his body began to wear down, “he decided to look into coaching and he gave me a call,” Juliano said. 

Weaver began his coaching career as defensive graduate assistant at the University of Florida, then had a stint at the University of North Texas before heading back to the NFL. In 2012, he became the New York Jets’ assistant defensive line coach. He then became defensive line coach for the Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans before going back to Baltimore, where in 2022, he was promoted to assistant head coach. 

Weaver soon attracted attention from teams around the league, and in January of 2024, he interviewed with both the Atlanta Falcons and the Washington Commanders for their vacant head coaching positions. Ultimately, he ended up being hired by the Miami Dolphins as the team’s new defensive coordinator. 

Juliano said he thinks Weaver will make a great NFL head coach one day. In the meantime, Weaver continues to stay in touch with his Saratoga mentors. “When he comes back to Saratoga, he’ll go and visit his elementary teacher and see all of his friends,” Juliano said. “He and I are on a very close basis, and I consider him more family than just a former player.”

“When I received the Head Football Coach position at Saratoga, he was the first to text me and congratulate me,” current Saratoga Springs varsity football coach Eric Hayden told Saratoga TODAY. “Anthony is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. His Athletic achievements are amazing, but his personality is what separates him.”

Juliano echoed the sentiment. “One of the biggest qualities that you notice about him is his adaptability to people and his love for people,” Juliano said. “He’s really a great person.”

Weaver was inducted into the Saratoga Springs Blue Streak Hall of Fame in 2010. His entry on the Hall of Fame website states that Weaver “has offered financial support to the football program and reached out to needy children in the community.”

“We hold an annual youth football clinic in Saratoga and he will come and see all the kids,” Hayden said. “One year he couldn’t make the clinic, so he sent a bunch of prizes and autographed material for us coaches to give out to kids who were working hard.  He even sent a video to say hello to us all.”

Although Saratoga football fans may be fiercely loyal to the New York Giants or Buffalo Bills, Hayden said they’ll now “have a reason to turn on Dolphins games.”

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