LOUISA Want to get under Jordan Wellman’s skin?
Try calling him Troy Polamalu.
Like the Steelers’ standout strong safety, Wellman also sports a monstrous mane, but with much more fiery follicles.
On second thought, don’t mention that team from Pittsburgh.
“I’m a Ravens fan,” the Lawrence County senior will quickly recoil the comparison.
And, the Bulldog makes no bones about his desire to hit people on the football field.
Wellman unfurls his running red locks, which now extend past his chest, because it’s his “trademark.” He hasn’t been to a barber in three years.
“Everybody knows me by it,” Wellman said.
No one can miss No. 40 for the Bulldogs’ football team, and opposing teams shouldn’t forget about No. 52 either.
Former rivals, Blake Watson and Wellman are now the main men in the middle of Lawrence County’s defense.
Growing up, Watson and Wellman played against one another in youth league. Wellman was in Fort Gay, Watson in Louisa.
Wellman came over to Lawrence County upon entering high school.
“At first, it was like, I can’t believe he’s over here,” Watson recalled with a laugh. “I thought he was going to try to take my position.”
Watson is a middle linebacker while Wellman has slid over to outside linebacker after spending some time on the inside.
“It’s been a good transition,” Wellman said. “I can read everything that’s going on.”
Watson is more than happypatrolling the middle.
“I’m like the quarterback of the defense,” he said. “I love it that way.”
Wellman and Watson are two of just six seniors on this year’s youth-laced Bulldogs.
Second-year coach Joe Cecil will rely upon them heavily, as the duo combined for 190 tackles last season.
“Jordan is a guy that’s really versatile, and he just has a feel for the game,” Cecil said. “Blake’s really stepped up leadership-wise.”
Watson spoke of the leadership role his coach talked about.
“It’s kind of cool because kids look up to you,” he said. “You can tell by the look in their eyes. I love how these kids look up to us.”
Neither offer imposing frames — Watson is 5-foot-10, 200 pounds; Wellman 5-10, 190 — but their tough bash brother-like attitudes have permeated throughout the locker room.
“We are physical, I’ll say that much; more physical than last year,” Wellman said.
“Unbelievably physical” is how Watson described it.
Wellman has basically taken up residence in the weight room. He’s added 30 pounds of muscle since the end of last season.
“He is constantly working out,” Cecil said. “We lift (as a team) and then he goes to the local gym after.”
Wellman missed the Bulldogs’ opening game at home against Ashland in 2011 with a broken left wrist. He returned a week later, played one full game and then got hurt again.
In Week 4 against Perry County Central, with the game nearing halftime, Wellman bruised a lung and fractured three ribs tackling a receiver from behind.
“His cleat shot up and hit me in the ribcage,” Wellman said. “What’s bad about that is two plays before that, I made an interception, but I fumbled the ball trying to carry it with my cast hand (from the broken left wrist).”
After an overnight hospital stay and another game off, Wellman was back in action.
Lawrence County finished at 5-7 with a playoff win a year ago.
Offensively, the Bulldogs lost many key pieces to graduation, so Watson knows that 28.7 points allowed per game last season won’t even be close to cutting it this fall.
“We’re the backbone of the team,” said Watson of the defense. He may play some offensive line as well, while Wellman may receive some carries from the fullback position.
Neither can wait much longer for Friday night’s opener against Ashland at Putnam Stadium.
“My blood’s boiling,” Watson said.
“There’s nothing like playing at Putnam Stadium on a Friday night,” added Wellman.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664.
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