Gameday Insider with Mike Myers '08
by Justin Long
Amherst College head football coach E.J. Mills recruited Mike Myers hoping to fill the void in the Lord Jeffs’ kicking game. Although Myers has attempted just as many field goals as I have during his time at Amherst, he has become one of his team’s most clutch players and one of the NESCAC’s most talented receivers.
Myers made a name for himself at Foxboro High School as a standout basketball player, having finished his career as a member of the illustrious 1,000-point club. While he had been playing basketball throughout his childhood, it was not until freshman year at Foxboro that he began playing football. Myers served as a safety, wide receiver and kicker, but it was his kicking ability that drew Mills’ attention.
On Thanksgiving Day of his junior year, Myers nailed a last-second field goal to give his team a one-point victory over archrival Mansfield High School. “We could tell he was a big-time player,” says Mills. “He nailed that kick in front of a large crowd in a very important game.”
Mills and Amherst offensive coordinator Don Faulstick were unsure of Myers’ skills as a wide receiver, but they knew the Jeffs were in desperate need of a kicker. “We knew that he was a great athlete who could do pretty much anything,” says Faulstick. “We really needed a kicker, so we figured if Mike could do it, great—if not, we knew he could probably play a different position.”
For the Amherst coaches, the decision to recruit Myers was a no-brainer. For Myers, however, the decision to play football was not so easy. “It was a very tough choice between football and basketball,” he says. “In the end, I figured I had much more to learn about football because I didn’t start playing until I got to high school. I knew that I had a lot of room for improvement, and I wanted to take that opportunity to get better.”
Entering his first year as a Lord Jeff, Myers expected to be mainly a kicker, with perhaps some receiving duties thrown in here and there. The bad news was that his kicking did not come around as hoped—the good news was that his athletic ability made him a versatile player that the Amherst coaching staff could easily find use for.
Finding use for Myers didn’t take long, as he caught a 15-yard touchdown pass in the 2004 season opener to kick off his collegiate career. Although he saw limited action as a first-year, he became one of Amherst’s prime targets in 2005, catching 23 passes for 348 yards and three touchdowns to make him the team’s second most efficient receiver (statistically speaking).
During that impressive sophomore campaign, Myers’ ability to shine in big moments became evident when the Jeffs faced Trinity on Amherst’s Family Weekend. Trinity, which was trying to build on its 28-game winning streak (the longest active streak in Division III at the time) and earn the program’s 500th win, was expected to cruise to victory. The Bantams had outscored their opponents 183-9 (not a typo) prior to their game with the Jeffs, but Myers was apparently unimpressed. Amherst wound up being the only team to score more than seven points against Trinity that year, as Myers finished with five catches for 100 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown that gave his team a lead late in the third quarter. Trinity went on to win the game, 30-20, but Myers had left his mark.
Mills calls a performance like that a “coming out” game, but to Myers it was just another day. “We had a very talented group of receivers that year,” he says, “so I just took advantage of the opportunity that was presented to me. I knew there were plenty of other guys capable of doing well, and I knew I could come through when it was my turn.”
Myers was on his way to having another successful season in 2006, when a dislocated knee cap and torn knee ligament prevented him from playing in the final two games, which happened to be against Trinity and Williams. The injury did not require surgery, but Faulstick remembers the blow it delivered to the team. “The coaches were making a highlight reel of the season to show our guys we could beat Williams in the season finale,” says Faulstick, “but it turned out that most of the season’s highlights involved Mike. He was definitely a big loss.”
Myers healed and was ready to go in 2007, but he suffered a concussion during a punt return against Middlebury, and was forced to sit out last Saturday’s game against Colby. Needless to say, the team was hoping for a quick recovery. “Mike may not be the fastest or strongest kid on the field,” says Faulstick, “but he’s definitely one of the toughest. A lot of kids would have laid down after taking a hit like Mike did, but he walked off the field on his own power and was right back out there for the next punt return.”
Mills adds, “Mike is a fierce competitor with a great feel for the game. When the lights go on, he’s ready to go. He could miss every field goal or drop every ball in practice, but if he was put into a situation where we needed a clutch kick or catch, we’d be confident that he’d come through for us.”
Myers may have had a difficult time choosing between basketball and football, but he’s gotten a taste of success for both sports while at Amherst. In addition to being one of the NESCAC’s most talented receivers, he has won a pair of intramural basketball championships along the way (he might have three under his belt had he not studied abroad in Australia last spring). Sure, winning an intramural title might not be in the same realm as beating Williams in football, but at least he still gets to enjoy the sports he grew up loving.
It’s pretty safe to say that Mills and Faulstick are no longer skeptical of Myers’ abilities as a receiver. As for being clutch: “I know I have the ability to keep my cool in high-pressure situations,” says Myers. “But I don’t think about that—I just like to play the game.”
So let’s hope his days of being injured are over. You never know when Amherst will need some late-game heroics.