‘The Weber Way’: How Kansas State’s ‘Family’ mantra rings true with Landry Weber

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Two weeks ago, in the game against at-the-time No. 6 Oklahoma, Landry hauled in four receptions for 65 yards and the first touchdown of his career. (Macey Franko | Collegian Media Group)

It’s posted on billboards, said among students and is even part of Kansas State’s football stadium. Family is one of the most important things that makes K-State what it is. For K-State football’s Landry Weber, the word runs much deeper than just the stadium name.

Landry was born on Sept. 18, 1998, in Overland Park, Kansas, to father Stan and mother Nancy. Stan played quarterback for K-State from 1980 to 1984 and has served as an analyst for the K-State Sports network since 1987.

Even with Stan having experience at the collegiate level, Landry says he doesn’t think their relationship has differed because of sports.

“It’s still the same old father-son relationship,” Landry said. “He’s been my basketball coach when I was growing up, but he’s always been a coach in whatever it comes to correcting me and telling me what I can do better, and nothing’s changed after the game. Our conversations are still about what I can do better. Like that fourth-down catch that I barely missed, he’s telling me, ‘You got to run half a step faster and catch that ball — no excuse,’ and that’s how it’s always been and it’s still that way.”

Landry’s father wasn’t the only member of the family to play a sport for K-State. His older brother Stanton played football for the Wildcats from 2011 to 2015, and his older sister McKenzi played volleyball from 2016 to 2019.

“It’s a blessing, it’s consistent with every day of our lives,” Stan said. “The fact that they ended up going to K-State was — and had to be — their decision. But the fact that they all decided to come here was not surprising at all. If you would have asked me is there a chance that all four would have an opportunity to have great success as a K-State student, I would have said yes. It’s a great blessing that they ended up loving K-State as much as my wife and I and my family do.”

It’s not very often you see multiple members of a family play sports at the same university. For the Webers, it’s something they take pride in.

“We take a lot of pride in that, it’s really cool,” Landry said. “I think it shows how great of a place this is that guys come here to play here, and their sons are coming through here too. I don’t think it’s a coincidence, they saw their dads and their dads raised them here because they knew how special of a place this was and they wanted their kids to be a part of that. … It’s created a really special bond.”

With his brother and sister both playing sports at K-State, it was a no-brainer where Landry wanted to play ball at the collegiate level.

“It’s a really cool experience, you know, I’ve been dreaming about being here my whole entire life,” Landry said. “As a fan, you’re sitting in the crowd thinking about the day that you’re going to be here, and finally being here … it’s been really cool. It gives you a different perspective because when you’re out here, you understand how those fans feel, how much this game means to them, and the game still means a lot to you, so it gives you that desire to perform and provide that joy for those fans and get them a win every week.”

Sports were a big part of the lives of all of the family, but it was the school they played at that brought them closer together.

“I don’t think we think that way,” McKenzi said. “But I do think we have a passion for the school and the people at K-State are incredible, and I never regret at all going there. I think that my dad being plugged in there still with the athletic program, we always knew the great quality of school that it was. I would say that we never glorify college sports.”

Stanton also highlighted that the people at the university helped create the bond his family has with K-State.

“I think that we are rooting so hard for each other and are sharing each other’s joys, and there is never any jealousy and it’s just — we’re lucky people, and K-State has a lot to do with it,” Stanton said. “I’m in love with K-State and what the people at K-State stand for, and the same could be said about all the people in our family.”

It wasn’t always about playing on professional fields with stands full of thousands of fans cheering them on. For the siblings, it started in their backyard.

“Oh yeah, we played basketball a lot,” McKenzi said. “So I grew up playing basketball, and our dad would never let us specialize, so we all played basketball and football and volleyball for me. The boys loved playing Wiffle ball in the backyard. I wasn’t as good, and we had a 50-yard backyard that we lived in until I was in high school, and it was the best because it was like a mini-football field, and you could play a really good Wiffle ball game. I was never good, but I would always try to play because I was squished between the two boys [in age]. If I ever wanted to have fun, I would join in, and I would always try my best, but they would always kick me out of it because of my inability to keep up, but it was fun trying.”

Not only was the backyard ideal for playing as children, but so was the basement of their home.

“Our basement was like a hard carpet, so you could bounce a ball really easily on it,” Stanton said. “We had two Little Tikes goals — the greatest toy ever. Landry and I would take painter’s tape, and we would tape the carpet. We’d tape the sidelines, the three-point lines, a logo in the middle of the court. We would play 1-on-1 basketball tournaments and we’d print off a bracket of the Big 12 tournament and one of us would be Iowa State and the other would be Oklahoma State or whatever the first-round game would be, and we knew the players’ names and would take on their personalities.”

While talking about her family and playing sports, McKenzi made it clear that it didn’t matter if they all played together or not — being a family is the most important thing to her.

“I feel like I don’t connect with others as well as I do us. It’s just the Weber way,” McKenzi said. “We joked around about it all the time and we’re normal humans, but we really just think a lot alike and we all individualize in our own ways but we love connecting together … my family is everything to me.”

McKenzi finished with two First-Team Academic All-Big 12 Honors while playing for K-State. She was awarded a scholarship for her hard work at the same time as her brother. However, when it came to celebrating, it didn’t go exactly as she planned.

“So me and Landry both got on scholarship on the same day,” McKenzi said. “I called him because I’m freaking out, I’m excited and I call him and he says, ‘McKenzi, that’s so cool! We have to go get ice cream,’ and he celebrated me for like fifteen minutes. It was awesome. … I didn’t find out for another 24 hours and I got another text from a family friend saying, ‘Congratulations to the Weber family, big day yesterday, two scholarships for the children,’ and I’m like, ‘Wait what?’ and I call Landry right away and I say, ‘You’re on scholarship?’ and he goes, ‘Yeah, I found out like the same time you called me, I was leaving Klieman’s office.’ I go, ‘You didn’t tell me on the call?’ and he goes, ‘I didn’t want to take away your glory.’ Like, that would have made it so much better knowing that we both got it at the same time, so we went and got ice cream and celebrated later that Friday. It was super sweet, and that’s like who he is, and he’s super selfless.”

Unlike his sister, Stanton found out beforehand and was there with Landry when he was put on scholarship.

“So I was coming off the field after practice in fall camp,” Stanton said. “Hank — coach Klieman’s right-hand man — he gave me a call and said, ‘Hey, your brother is in coach Klieman’s office, we’re putting him on scholarship. I was just wondering if you wanted to be there when he comes out.’ I said, ‘Yeah, absolutely,’ so I was sitting outside of coach Klieman’s office with the door shut for however long while they were in there talking, and I was the first person he saw when he came out. I swear there was no one else on the planet. Coach Klieman was trying to talk to us but we were just smiling arm-in-arm, walking away with big grins on our faces. It was like we were in a different world — almost in tears you know? It was a really cool moment.”

Landry’s hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed, as head coach Chris Klieman commented on his leadership in this week’s media press conference.

“Well, he’s a great leader for starters,” Klieman said. “He’s up for the Campbell Award — the academic Heisman — and he’s well deserving of that. He does everything right off the field, in the community, in the classroom, and that rubs off on young players. Young players can see the hard work you put in and can be really rewarding on the field as well as off the field. Just his health this year, he’s healthy and he’s able to play the way that I know that Landry expects to play. The way I saw a young Landry in 2019 play.”

Being a leader is something that resonated with Landry when asked about the comment from Klieman — especially thinking back to how much his brother impacted him.

“It’s a huge honor to be considered a leader,” Landry said “I watched a lot of great leaders come before me. My brother was voted captain on this team, and you talk about contributing to the team, and sometimes it’s more of an honor to be considered a leader than to be considered a great player on the field. Any way that I can affect these guys underneath me, being a senior, any way that I can encourage them and have an impact on them means a lot to me. Having a positive impact on them as I leave here so that they can have a positive impact on the next guys.”

With Landry coming off an injury this past season, seeing him play well in his senior year is nothing new to his family.

“He is a very good football player and he’s been explosive and a big-play type of player his whole life,” Stan said. “So to see him do it on this stage was just great confirmation for him. But for our family – that was just Landry being normal. That’s Landry.”

Throughout the 2021 season, Landry has hauled in seven receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown.

“It’s no surprise, I knew he had this in him since the day he stepped on campus,” Stanton said. “I knew he was doing everything he needed to do to get to this point, but we always say God’s got a plan that’s always better than ours, so I’m very interested to see how the rest of it plays out for him.”

Two weeks ago, in the game against at-the-time No. 6 Oklahoma, Landry hauled in four receptions for 65 yards and the first touchdown of his career.

“It was so cool,” McKenzi said. “That was incredible. We joke around that Landry is the most athletic human, and if he had the height, he would be a D1 superstar. When Stanton got the height, Landry got the athletic genes, and it’s incredible. He works so hard, he wants it so bad, and I love celebrating Landry.”

Stanton hasn’t been around much for Landry’s senior year as he’s currently on the coaching staff for the South Carolina Gamecocks.

“It’s been incredible, but bittersweet,” Stanton said. “I mean, this is the first time I haven’t been on the sidelines for him as a college player, and he’s having the really great kind of season and I’ve had to miss it. For me, it’s been a bit bittersweet, but for my feelings towards what he’s doing, it’s been great, and I think it’s neat for him that I’m not there. … He’s incredibly insightful, smart, hardworking and he’s always doing the right thing and caring for people, and he’s just an incredible person.”

The bond between the brothers never faltered from playing basketball in the basement. Stanton was a quality control coach for K-State during Landry’s freshman year.

“It was pretty cool,” Landry said. “He was a GA when coach Snyder was here, so when I was on scout team, he was our scout team coach. I worked with him every single day, and then once coach Klieman took over, he got promoted to the special teams quality control, so then I got to work with him a lot with just special teams stuff. … I reminisce a lot about it because of the success we had on special teams together. It’s something that will be with us forever.”

According to Stanton, it’s Landry’s perseverance that has carried him into the man he is today.

“He’s had to battle through a lot of things,” Stanton said. “He’s had some major surgeries, major injuries, he’s had a coaching change … He earned respect and then had to re-earn it, and that’s a real challenge, so he’s overcome several things to get to this point, and he’s now getting an opportunity to perform healthily, and we’re all getting to see what I knew was always in him.”

Not only does his perseverance stand out, but his intensity towards his passions does as well.

“I would describe Landry as a smart, independent, thoughtful, hardcore, dedicated person,” McKenzi said. “He knows what he wants and he’s hardcore in how he goes about it. I think we would describe our whole family as hardcore — maybe intensity is a better word for it. We all have this intensity about us, and I think Landry very much has this intensity about him.”

Being the older brother, Stanton knows that Landry looks up to him. He says that, at the end of the day, it’s about writing and telling a story for himself that he will be proud of.

“I think he’s intrinsically motivated by the right things,” Stanton said. “He’s very mature and is just one of the most phenomenal human beings, but he will compare himself to me, and he’ll speak it out loud, but he’s comfortable with his ability wherever his journey goes. It’s not a, ‘I’ve got a chip on my shoulder, I’ve got to be better,’ it’s more so he’s just — when the story is done being written — he wants to be proud of his story just like he knows he’s really proud of me, and he knows that I was proud of my story. And he’s got every reason to be proud.”

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