NFL Football Player
Welker started his football career at Heritage Hall School in Oklahoma City, where he and Graham Colton were teammates. In his junior year, he helped lead his team to the 2A State Football championship. Also, in 1999 he was named The Daily Oklahoman All-State Player of the Year, and Oklahoma State Player of the Year by USA Today. Welker played in the 2000 Oil Bowl, scoring a 40-yard field goal for the Oklahoma team. Out of high school, Welker was not recruited much as he was considered to be too small to play at the college level. However, after a recruit at Texas Tech backed out of his scholarship, it was offered to Welker. Said Welker of the experience: “I was thinking I’d get a scholarship somewhere. When it didn’t happen when it was supposed to, on signing day, I was pretty hurt by it. In the end, I don’t think I could’ve picked a better school than Texas Tech. At Heritage Hall, Welker was a prolific contributor on offense, defense, and special teams. As a running back, he scored 80 touchdowns (53 rushing and 27 receiving). As a defensive back, he had 581 tackles, 22 interceptions (three of which he returned for touchdowns), and nine fumble recoveries. As a kicker, he scored 35 field goals and 165 extra points; his longest field goal, 57 yards, actually exceeds the personal best of current Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
Welker’s last minute signing proved to be a bonanza for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Based on a highlight reel from high school, Welker earned the nickname “The Natural” before his freshman year for his versatility and big-game performances. Over his four-year career, he had 259 receptions for 3,019 yards and 21 touchdowns, and 79 rushes for 456 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored eight touchdowns returning punts in his career, still tied for the NCAA record. After his senior season at Texas Tech, Welker went undrafted in the 2004 NFL Draft but ended up signing as a free agent with the San Diego Chargers
2008 – Despite the season-ending injury to Welker’s quarterback, Tom Brady, he continued to amass receptions at the same pace through the first half of the season: through eight games, he had 56 receptions, but only one touchdown reception. He had six or more receptions in each of the Patriots’ first 11 games, breaking Jimmy Smith’s mark of eight games at the start of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 2001 season. Welker had the longest pass play of his NFL career in the Patriots’ 48–28 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Week 12: on 2nd-and-8 from their own 15, Welker caught a 5-yard pass from Matt Cassel, before eluding a pair of defenders tip-toeing and running down the left sideline to the Miami 21, for a total of 64 yards, 59 yards after the catch. Welker broke the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season in Week 14 against the Seattle Seahawks, catching 12 passes for 134 yards, and catching a pass on the Patriots’ two-point conversion. He finished the game with a league-leading 96 receptions, for 1,002 yards (ninth in the NFL, third in the AFC). Against the Oakland Raiders a week later, Welker became the first player in Patriots history, and the eighth in NFL history, to have back-to-back 100-reception seasons; the last player to do it was his teammate Randy Moss, while he was a Viking, in 2002 and 2003. Welker was fined $10,000 by the NFL for celebrating a December 21 touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals by lying down in the snow by the endzone and using his body to make a snow angel. The NFL considers going to the ground after a touchdown to be unsportsmanlike conduct. Wes was selected to attend the 2009 Pro Bowl as a reserve.
2007 – On March 1, 2007, the Dolphins offered Welker, a restricted free agent, a second-round tender (the second-lowest tender) of $1.35 million for a one-year contract. The Patriots, who were interested in Welker, had originally considered signing Welker, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet which Miami would have had seven days to match; according to The Boston Globe, that sheet would have contained a poison pill provision which would have made the offer difficult for the Dolphins to match. Ultimately, however, the Patriots decided not to use such an offer, and traded the Dolphins their 2007 second- and seventh-round draft picks for Welker. Wes’ first season as a Patriot eclipsed his best season as a Dolphin (2006); he bettered his totals for receptions, touchdowns, and yardage in his first ten games. In Week one, he caught the first touchdown of the Patriots’ season, equaling the one receiving touchdown he had scored in his three seasons with the Dolphins. He set career bests for yardage three times: in the Patriots’ Week 6 win against the Dallas Cowboys, Welker had eleven catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns (all career bests); the next week, against the Dolphins, he had nine catches for 138 yards and two more touchdowns (the most receiving yards of any NFL player that week); and in Week 12, against the Eagles, he had 13 receptions for 149 yards. In Week 15, against the Jets, Welker reached 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career; in Week 16, against the Dolphins, he recorded his 101st reception of the season, tying the Patriots franchise record set by Troy Brown in 2001. In Week 17, against the Giants, he caught eleven more passes, setting the Patriots franchise record for catches with 112, tying Bengals receiver T. J. Houshmandzadeh for most receptions in the 2007 NFL season, and setting an NFL record for most catches in a first season with a new team. he finished the season with 1,175 yards and eight touchdowns. He also received one vote for NFL Offensive Player of the Year, an award won by his quarterback, Tom Brady. Welker was voted to his first AP All-Pro Team (second team). In two postseason games, Welker had 16 receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He tied the Super Bowl record of 11 receptions in a single game in the Patriots’ 17-14 loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. 2006 – After rumors that he would be cut during the preseason, Welker started off being the lone bright-spot of the struggling Miami Dolphins offense. Through five games, he netted a team-high 29 catches and team-high 299 yards. During Week five, he was a huge target for back-up quarterback Joey Harrington, recording a then-career high nine catches for 77 yards in the 20-10 loss to the New England Patriots. On the season, Welker had a team-best 67 receptions for 687 yards and one score. He returned 48 kickoffs for 1,048 yards (22.2 average) and 41 punts for 378 yards (9.2 average). 2005 – During training camp at the beginning of the 2005 season, Welker was promoted to the third wide receiver spot after Chris Chambers and Marty Booker. He finished the season with 29 receptions for 434 yards and no touchdowns. He also had 43 punt returns for 390 yards, a 9.1 average, and 61 kickoff returns for 1,379 yards, a 22.6 average. These ranked 11th and 20th in the NFL, respectively. 2004 – Despite making the Chargers’ roster out of training camp, Welker was cut after the first week of the 2004 season and signed with the Miami Dolphins, where he was mostly used on special teams. Playing against the Patriots on October 10, 2004, Welker became the second player in NFL history to return a kickoff and a punt, kick an extra point and a field goal, and make a tackle in a single game.