HAMMOND — Five years ago, former St. Michael the Archangel standout quarterback Jeremy Meyers would have never envisioned such a scenario unfolding.
Meyers signed with Southeastern Louisiana to continue his career at quarterback before switching positions — and sides of the ball — three times, enduring three losing seasons, painful injuries and a coaching change.
However, through it all, Meyers persevered to witness a better tomorrow, both personally and from a program perspective, and heads into his final season with the Lions counting his many blessings.
“I didn’t expect this when I was being recruited,” Meyers said in a recent interview at SLU’s Media Day. “I didn’t expect us to lose at first. I didn’t know what to expect. Being a part of this program has been an eye-opening experience.”
Where losing seasons and faint expectations were the norm in the early stages of his college career, Meyers has been a part of SLU’s renaissance under third-year coach Ron Roberts as the Lions are trying to build the foundation for something special.
SLU captured the school’s first Southland Conference championship last season with a 7-0 run through the league. The Lions (11-3) won a home Football Championship Subdivision playoff game before being derailed a week later in the quarterfinals by New Hampshire.
That three-point setback, coupled with the return of 14 starters and 58 lettermen, have clearly enhanced the profile of SLU within the conference and nationally. The Lions are the prohibitive favorite to win the SLC again and carry a No. 3 preseason ranking into their season opener against Jacksonville, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. at Strawberry Stadium.
“These new coaches came in and established a new program that started the first year and definitely didn’t take hold right away,” Meyers said. “They had to established their set of standards, bring in their guys, and people have stuck with it and believed in these coaches. We’ve all benefitted from the school and town turnaround.”
Meyers — now 6-feet-2 and 235 pounds — has reinvented himself since his senior year at St. Michael, where he was the state’s third-leading passer and District 7-4A Offensive MVP with 2,742 yards and 30 touchdowns.
There was a trial and error period before Meyers found his eventual home at tight end, where he will play for the second consecutive season.
Meyers’ career began at quarterback during his redshirt season in 2010 but he was soon jettisoned to the defensive side to try safety — an experiment that ended after fall camp — followed by a move to linebacker, where he recorded four tackles in eight games.
At season’s end, change was in the air when a fourth straight losing season ended Mike Lucas’ tenure and ushered in Roberts’ arrival. Meyers moved back to offense and played tight end.
“I was trying to get on the field and get some playing time, which is what every college player wants,” Meyers said. “The quarterback situation, I tried for a little while, but gave up that dream and felt like I could be athletic enough and help the team out in any way that I could. I think I found a good niche at tight end.”
Meyers, who bulked up 20 pounds to aid in his blocking, turned into a dependable target with 28 catches for 401 yards and a TD — earning All-Louisiana second-team and All-SLC honorable mention awards in 2012.
Meyers also learned how to work his way back from injury after surgery on his knee last summer. But Meyers received postseason accolades after playing in all 14 of his team’s games — second-team All-Louisiana and All-SLC honorable mention — for his 15-catch, 255-yard junior season that netted one touchdown.
After a setback to his shoulder kept him out this spring, Meyers was back in time this summer for offseason workouts, conditioning and 7-on-7 and has worked his way back into the starting battle at tight end with junior Taylor Jenkins.
“It’s definitely been a complete 180 (degree) turnaround from when I came here,” said Meyers, who will graduate in December in Kinesiology/Fitness and Human Performance. “I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else in the country. I didn’t have to go too far to find a second home. It’s been a really good experience.”