There are a lot of intriguing players to watch when Iowa State opens up the season against UNI this weekend. What’s Joel Lanning going to look like? How will Mike Warren follow up last year’s stellar season? What about Allen Lazard?
All of these guys, and plenty more on Iowa State’s roster, are solid candidates for this week’s player to watch. Here’s the thing, though: none of those guys have gone through what Mitchell Meyers has. Matt Campbell has already said it a couple times this season, and I’ll say it, too: Mitchell Meyers is one of the best stories in college football this season. All eyes should be on him this Saturday.
After being diagnosed Hodgkin’s lymphoma in February of 2015, Meyer has kicked cancer’s ass and will complete his return to the field this fall after missing all of last season. That’s insanely impressive.
The amount of work that Meyers had to put in, and the obstacles he had to overcome to even be a small contributor this season is remarkable. But he won’t be a small contributor. He’s going to be a week one starter and a team captain.
He’s a huge inspiration, but he’s also going to wreak some havoc on his opponents this season. Let’s not forget that this guy can flat out play. He saw action in all 12 games as a redshirt freshman in 2013, and started every game somewhere on the D-Line in 2014, recording the third most tackles amongst D-Linemen.
According to an article from the AP’s Luke Meredith, Meyers acknowledged he might never be the same player he was before he got sick. I have a hard time believing that. This is a guy who never missed a single workout while battling the disease. There aren’t many cancer survivors playing Division 1 college football. My point is that this dude is a warrior. And I think big, big things are coming his way this season. Nothing is going to come easy, but after facing cancer, can anything really be more difficult?
“Battling cancer is a lot like playing football,” Meyers told the AP. “Obviously the implications are a lot bigger battling cancer. But you learn a lot about mental toughness playing football. It helped me a lot to get through what I went through, and vice versa.”
Very few guys, if any, will be as mentally tough as Meyers this season. And on top of that, there was a time when Meyers wasn’t sure he’d be in the position he is in now.
“If you were to tell me that I’m in the position I’m in now six months ago, I definitely wouldn’t have believed you,” Meyers told the AP. “Right now, I’m in a really good position to succeed.”
I fully believe that Meyers will cash in on that opportunity. Meyers’ story has become national news, and deservedly so. But he doesn’t care about making headlines. Despite Matt Campbell saying he’s one of the best stories in college football season, Meyers doesn’t seem real interested in that.
Campbell told the AP that Meyers told him, “I’m coming back to play. I’m not coming back to be just a story.”
That’s badass. Meyers is a badass. And after such a long wait and going through so much, I can’t wait to watch this dude go crazy on the football field this season, because it’s been a long time coming, and he truly deserves it. I’m sure Meyers will get a loud standing ovation when he takes the field, and probably an even louder one when he makes a big play and his name booms across the loudspeakers at Jack Trice. That will be one hell of a moment. But Meyers won’t have some crazy celebration.
“I won’t do much,” Meyers told the Des Moines Register. “I’m not a big celebrator. I’ll celebrate with my teammates, and then play the next play.”
It doesn’t get any better than that.