His family in peril in Houston, LSU tackle Toby Weathersby considered going AWOL Sunday night

BATON ROUGE - Toby Weathersby thought about it Sunday night.

AWOL - Absent Without Leave.

With his parents, grandparents and other family members trapped in a flood in Houston, he thought about just leaving LSU and returning home. Forget that he is a junior starting right tackle on the offensive line and a leader of the team. Forget that LSU has a game Saturday, which was moved on Monday from NRG Stadium in Houston to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans because of the catastrophic rain and flooding in Houston.

Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Weathersby packed his truck with clothes and filled it with gas at about 8 p.m. Sunday. He was about to leave.

"Honestly, last night, I filled my truck up," Weathersby said Monday afternoon. "Man, I wanted to go so bad. I was just worried about trying to get there, get my people, go get them. If I could, bring them back here until everything died down. At the time, I wasn't worried about school or football or nothing."

LSU senior wide receiver Russell Gage not only thought about doing the same thing last August when his family's home in north Baton Rouge flooded during that great deluge. And he did it. He navigated flooded streets on foot and helped save his family. But that was a much shorter trip.

"This would've been a four-hour drive," Weathersby said. "No telling what roads are closed off and what's under water and what's not under water."

Finally, he just sat down and considered his options Sunday night.

"I just thought about the situation - what I was going to be putting myself in," he said. "I was just like fixing to be stupid, but I had to come to the realization that I've got to leave it up to the professionals, man."

Weathersby has been texting his mother, Nakia Stokes, and his grandparents, Billy and Jackie Stokes.

"I texted them early Sunday morning to check on them, and it took a minute for them to respond. So I kind of got even more worried," he said, and that motivated him to consider taking the trip. "But she texted me back late Sunday night, and they were all right so far."

He keeps worrying, though.

"They haven't been telling me everything, so I've just been playing it by ear," Weathersby said. "And hopefully, whatever they tell me is the truth and not just trying to make me feel better."

His family refused an evacuation of their homes by boat.

"They've been there probably like 20-something years," he said. "That's the fort, you know. They want to hold it down. But sometimes, you've just got to let go and let God's will take over. That's something that can always get replaced. We can always get a new home. You can't replace a life."

His family's reluctance to leave upset Weathersby.

"That's one of them things that really has pissed me off," he said. "I know my situation. I'm safe. But like damn, 'Can you at least listen to me and just move, try to get out of there?'"

His grandmother Jackie wanted to stay because she has trouble moving.

"Her limbs, her knees and stuff have been hurting her so bad," Weathersby said. "So it's just one of them things where she's saying, 'I'm going to ride it out as much as possible until it's really time to retreat.'"

At this point, Weathersby let go of a heavy, ragged breath.

"So, it's just one of them things I just keep praying about," he said, "and hopefully everything will be all right."

© 2017 WWL-TV


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