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Weeden, Pratt go from minors to Fiesta Bowl teams

Associated Press Modified: December 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm •  Published: December 20, 2011
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According to research by STATS LLC, they are among at least 17 Bowl Subdivision players who are at least 25, though not all schools provide players' birthdates in team media guides. There's at least one player older than Weeden this season: Buffalo punter Peter Fardon, a 29-year-old senior from Australia.

Age is a constant subject of teasing by teammates.

"They call me old man a lot and they joke with me," Pratt said. "They say, 'Man oh man what are you doing here?' Anytime I make a comment that makes sense they say, 'Ah, the wise old man.'"

Life is also different from those of most college athletes.

Weeden lives off campus with his wife, Melanie, and is financially stable thanks to his baseball contract. Pratt married his wife, Amy, back in February and is thinking more about starting a family one day than an NFL career. He will be at least 30 by the time he graduates.

"At least he'll get hassled about his age more than I will," Weeden joked.

The experience of playing professional baseball is what separates both — besides their age — from their younger teammates who had a head start on football.

Cowboys coach Mike Gundy considers Weeden's age to be a positive because he's been through the ups and downs of the minor leagues and doesn't get rattled easily. Stanford coach David Shaw expects Pratt, relegated to the practice squad as a freshman, to play next season and see big minutes before his Cardinal career is over.

"I've had a lot of friends who have played professional baseball. A lot of times in professional baseball, you don't have the highs and lows." Shaw said. "You have to be a pretty steady guy, so when things go wrong, you don't panic."

Pratt plodded along for seven seasons in the lower minors before the Dodgers promoted him to Double-A Chattanooga in 2010. He finished there with a 6.00 ERA in eight games, then sent his old football tapes to Stanford and became a non-scholarship player this season.

Weeden ended his baseball career in 2007 when a partially torn labrum and severe tendinitis in his rotator cuff didn't get better with rehab. He visited with Gundy and Larry Fedora, the offensive coordinator at the time, and decided to walk on — with the Yankees paying for his schooling before he was placed on scholarship last semester.

With the difference in throwing motions, he doesn't experience any pain when tossing a football.

The two have lost touch over the years, as is the way with a traveling minor league player. Weeden didn't even know Pratt was at Stanford until somebody told him after the Fiesta Bowl announcement a couple weeks ago.

They haven't had a chance to speak to each other yet but are hoping to catch up soon.

"I'd probably say, 'What's up?'" Weeden said. "See what he has been doing, talk about his last few years in baseball and about the glory days in Columbus, Ga."

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Follow Antonio Gonzalez at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP