Elk Grove senior Nick Meyer didn’t want to call it cockiness.
Meyer knew there are too many negative connotations connected to cockiness. Instead, he opted for two other words.
“This year not as much a cockiness, but definitely there was a swagger that we had,” Meyer said of his team. “Last year, if we had played Maine South or a Montini in a 7-on-7, we would have been hesitant and unsure of ourselves. This year, we walked in there and said, ‘They’re a pretty darn good team, but we can play with them.’ That’s swagger and confidence.”
Swagger and confidence are more suitable words. It wasn’t as if Meyer was taking the field this summer and telling his opponents he was going to eat up their secondaries, or that he ever looked down on his opponents. It was more that Meyer simply knew he and his teammates belonged with those elite teams.
Whether it was Class 8A defending state champs Maine South or 5A champs Montini, Meyer believed Elk Grove could compete, and it did.
“I really amped our summer schedule up this year,” Elk Grove coach Brian Doll said. “I told them I wasn’t going to play a soft 7-on-7 schedule. There were only two teams that competed with us -- Montini and Maine South. We felt we outplayed all those other schools at the higher levels. Nick had success from Day 1 in 7-on-7s. He had a lot of success.”
Meyer’s success isn’t a surprise. He began to become a known commodity last season as he passed for 1,978 yards and 17 touchdowns and ran for 986 yards and 16 touchdowns to lead Elk Grove to a 7-4 record and a second-round playoff appearance.
This season, though, the expectations have risen. Aside from having another year behind him and adding overall strength and speed in the offseason, Meyer’s increased knowledge of the game is what has Doll excited about him for 2010.
“I think the main thing for him was to understand coverages,” Doll said. “It was really hard. You can tell them it’s a Cover 2 or this is a Cover 3, but it’s understanding how all the positions go together. We started from the beginning, what the responsibilities were. We went from piece to piece. He can now see how to mesh the play with the coverage.
“Last season, he was just so focused in on one guy, going to his buddy. This year, he’s much more apt to spread the ball to whatever receiver. He has a lot of confidence in all of the kids. We’re able to get the ball to a lot of different areas.”
Meyer notices a difference from last season.
“I don’t have to stare down receivers,” said Meyer, who also worked with Maine South offensive coordinator Charlie Bliss this summer. “I know what the receivers are going to do. I’ve gotten more chemistry with the receivers.”
Like last season, Meyer will continue to start at safety and return kicks for the Grenadiers. He had 43 tackles, three interceptions and one touchdown last season on defense. He also had one kick return for a touchdown.
Meyer doesn’t mind pulling double or triple duty. He enjoys being on the field all the time. It also helps his recruiting stock as all of the Division I schools are looking at him to be either a defensive back or wide receiver.
“It’s because I’m 6-foot and not 6-3 or 6-4,” said Meyer, who is being recruited by a number of MAC schools. “There’s nothing I can do about being taller. I just want to get on the field and do something.”
Doll said, “Some people may think I’m crazy to play him both ways. That’s the reality. I have to put us in to position to win games.”
With a new swagger and confidence, Meyer is that winning ticket.