In His Own Words: Dave Meyer

Part 2 of 2, by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com, 4/5/01
Click here for Part 1

Meyer barks out the signals at
the line in the 2000 Pittsburgh game

Dave Meyer's shining moment on the field came in his redshirt senior year, when he led the Hokies from a 34-27 deficit to a 37-34 win over the Pittsburgh Panthers. Michael Vick had gone down with an injury earlier in the game, and that gave Meyer the opportunity to battle back from a deficit and to lead the Hokies from their 15 yard line to the game-winning field goal with 16 seconds left.

Meyer also led the Hokies against the Miami Hurricanes a week later, but the results were much different. He got off to a cold start, and when the Hokies fell behind 14-0, he was removed from the game and a hobbling Michael Vick was inserted. Vick proved equally unsuccessful in leading the Tech offense, and Meyer was reinserted. Tech eventually fell behind 28-0 and rebounded to make the final score a respectable 41-21, but they were never in the game.

Meyer shares his thoughts on the Pitt and Miami games.

I just remember watching that Pittsburgh team go up and down the field on us, and I'm like, "What the heck?" When I went in the game, I said, "Guys we've got to step this up. We've got to control the line, you've got to give me some time, and Lee Suggs, you've got to run your tail off." And that's exactly what happened.

Our defense stepped up and stopped giving up things, even though they gave up 34 points for the game. And it was neat to see everyone come together and play well in the critical time of the game.

As far as what I'm thinking, I'm seeing Mike get carried off, and he's putting no pressure on his leg, and I said, "That's it, he's done, he's not coming back." I knew it wasn't going to be a game like the one against UVa (in 1999).

Coach said, "Get ready, you're playing the rest of the game." And thatís why I prepared all week, every week. This was my big chance to play and do well.

I can't tell you how many emails I got after that game -- you name it. Fans coming out of nowhere, saying we're so proud of the team, and the way you played. And I didn't think I did well. I think I graded out at 88%.

I graded out better against Miami, we just had so many things go against us. When a team scores two quick touchdowns, that puts you in a hole, and puts everybody in panic mode, and Coach Beamer wanted to put Mike in at all costs.

Looking back at the film, Coach said, "Dave you did a lot of very good things in that game, and looking back, we would have liked to have kept you in there and see what you could have done."

Most quarterbacks need to find their rhythm, just to feel good and get in a groove. That's the way I am. I like to get in a game tempo, feel what's going on, and get a good understanding of what the defense is doing.

For instance, I can watch all third down films on tape all week, but depending upon what their defensive coordinator is calling against us, I don't know what it's going to be. I know what I expect it to be, but getting a good feel for what is really going to happen on say, third and long, you need to be in the game.

So against Pitt, I eventually got a good feeling, and midway through the third quarter, things started to work. I was throwing the ball well, we were running the ball well, and in the fourth quarter, with five minutes to go, the coaching staff said, "This is it, you're calling your own plays." We marched the ball 80, 90 yards, whatever, and got the ball into field goal range.

It was a very satisfying time. All the coaches were coming up to me and saying, "Whew. You did it. You did what you had to do, and we're proud of you." So that was satisfying.

Against Miami, the coaches knew I could do it, but in the back of their minds, I think they thought, "Mike can bail us out." But Mike told me, "Dave, I am not playing. There's no way I could play."

We were roommates for two years, and Mike's mom would always call on the cell phone, and when she called before that game, I could just hear her yelling, saying, "You are not playing, no matter what!"

He said, "Ma, I don't want to play, I'm not going to play. Don't worry about it."

Well, they put this brace on him, and he couldn't move worth a crap. Michael Vick without the wheels Ö he's not the Michael Vick we're used to seeing.

You know, we were down 35-0 or whatever against Miami, and we lost by 20 points, but at least it was respectable in the end. We lost 41-21, but at least it wasn't 41-6. I wish it never had gone that way and that we hadn't given them all those points.

Meyer looks to the sidelines during
the 2000 UVa game, his last home
game at Virginia Tech.

But the most satisfying thing is, after the season, when I was voted by the other players on the team as one of the permanent team captains of the 2000 team.

It's a totally blind vote. What they do is, they pass out a card with every senior's name on the back, and on the front, it has offensive player of the year, defensive player of the year, special teams player of the year, etc. And on the front, you fill in the name of the person that you feel deserves that award. On the back it says, "Circle four players that you feel deserve to be named captains of the 2000 team." This is done at the end of the year, before the bowl game, about the third week of December.

And the coaches saw that and really just said, wow, this guy is well-respected by his teammates. It was kind of like a realization at the end of the year by the coaches, who said, he came in at some crucial times for us, and he did his best when he had to.

I think the coaches knew that, with Dave in the game, down to the last minute I was never going to quit and was always going to keep moving those chains. And that's what I think at the end of the season that they knew about me, that I am a competitor and that I'm fully capable.

Trying to Make the NFL

I went to an NFL-type combine on the 11th of March. It went fantastic. It went really really well. I scored a 9.3, which is like, off the charts. No one scores in the 9's. It was all physical stuff. You get graded on a scale relative to your position on everything you do at the combine. It was really fun, I really did well.

The major NFL combine, the real one, they invite 340 players, they put you up in a hotel, they pay for everything. That's the best. But then there are regional combines -- one in Ohio, one in New Jersey, one in California, I think -- and these combines, you pay $150, and you do all the drills and stuff like what you normally do at the real combine in front of the NFL coaches. But you pay for the service. I went to one of those.

The guy who ran the combine -- there's 10 of these combines a year, all over the country: Chicago, L.A., all over the country -- and the guy who ran it said I was the best quarterback they had seen in three years at any of these combines.

Out of 300 kids there, out of the one I went to, there's probably 10 kids who played Division 1-A. So most of these kids are 1-AA, Division II, Division III. These are kids who are just trying to get seen. Granted, this isn't the best of the best, but it was encouraging for them to tell me that. But I took that with a grain of salt. The guy could just be blowing smoke.

They try to do a good job. Everything is really organized. When they run a forty, for example, they have coaches there. Everything is done right, it's really professional, but as far as the caliber of player there, out of 300 kids, there's probably five of them that could have been in the two-deep at Virginia Tech. So it's not really top of the line talent. I kind of stuck out like a sore thumb, and I was second string at Tech.

I think any kind of exposure is definitely positive. My combine scores -- if you get an 8.0 or better, your scores are FAXed to every NFL, CFL, XFL, and Arena League team. So my spreadsheet went out and the head of pro personnel, who is the pro scout, he thumbs through that.

I talked to the guy from the Jaguars, and I asked, "Does anybody really check out this "Pro Scout combine" stuff? Or is it a waste of $150?" And he said, "No, no, we go through it and look and see if there is anybody who sticks out. And you definitely stuck out."

Right after I got done, the guy from the XFL came over, and he said, "Wow, you really impressed a lot of people here today. Fill out this information, and we'll get back to you as soon as possible." I used to be interested in playing in the XFL, but I'm not now. I think the league will go under in about two years.

The two big days after that were (March) 15th and the 22nd (at Tech), which were the Pro Days. That's when NFL scouts and coaches for different positions from different NFL teams come to Virginia Tech and work out all the guys who are draft eligible. We have eight guys who are draft eligible and are looking to get drafted.

The combine is not nearly as important as the Pro Days that we had on the 15th and the 22nd. The 15th went well, my numbers were excellent, but the 22nd was really, really good for me. I broadjumped 10-feet-one, which is really good for a quarterback.

The Jaguars guy said he got me at 4.57 (in the forty), which is pretty good. We did cone drills, and 10-yard shuttle, and 20-yard shuttle, all mine were above normal. He said my numbers were better than every one of the 20-some quarterbacks that went to the NFL combine (see the QB combine numbers on nfldraftdigest.com).

When it came time to do the bench press, the guy said, "You don't have to do that, quarterbacks donít do the bench press." I did it anyway, and I did it (225 pounds) 15 times. And he said, "Wow, you're a stinkin' strong mug for a quarterback."

There were probably fifteen scouts that came on the 22nd, and one of the scouts said, "Hey, listen, we're really thinking about bringing you in as a #3 quarterback in our training camp, and I would rather you not throw out there today. You're my sleeper pick. I donít want anyone else finding out about you." Those were the exact words he said.

I said, "Man, I gotta go out there." He says, "I know, go throw." The Jaguars guy was the one working me out, doing five-step drops and three-step drops. Cornelius (White, a former Virginia Tech receiver) was running routes for me, and he's a really disciplined receiver, because he's played pro for three or four years in Arena League. And I was just hitting him on the money, throwing ropes.

The Jaguars guy was the only one working me out, but the next thing I know, there's six scouts that came over and watched me throw and then that followed me back into the Merryman Center and asked me for my film. And I had to fill out all these questionnaires.

The hardest throw in football is when you get on the right hash and you have to throw the out-cut on the far left, like a fifteen yard out-cut. If you can throw that, and you can throw it on the money and throw it well, then there's a spot for you in the NFL. I was throwing a couple of those routes. I threw it well the first time, and they were like, "Do it again. I want to see you do it again!" So I did that, and some post routes and stuff, and they were impressed. So that was an encouraging time. They all wanted to get more film, they all wanted to get more knowledge about me.

Arena Football

Meyer recently tried out for the Roanoke Steam, an Arena Football 2 (or as the league likes to promote it, "arenafootball2") League team. He made the squad and was named their starting quarterback.

The two most respectable leagues right now are Arena 1 and the NFL. Arena 1, there's quarterbacks making $150,000. The quarterback right now for the Carolina Cobras, he's making $9,000 a game. Cornelius White plays for the Cobras and makes about $50,000 for about four months work. He told me that his QB there is Steve McNair's brother, and supposedly, he makes about $8500-$9000 a game, plus incentives. So you can make a darn good living in Arena League. It's fun -- so far with the Steam, it's been a whole lot of fun -- but Arena 1 would be a realistic thing of the NFL doesnít work out.

I think that the arena game -- the quickness, and having to make quick decision and read a defense fast, with a lot of quick, short passes -- that'll help my game out. So my heart says, heck, I want to play in Roanoke. For the fans, for the people who always thought that I could have played at Tech. I want to say, look, I'm good, I can do it. Plus, for myself, I want to build some confidence.

They throw the ball 40 times a game! Last year, they threw the ball more times in one season than Tech has thrown in the past two years. So I can get a whole lot of throws in this league, and that would really help me out. My goal is to get to a training camp and make the team. I feel like I have the skills to make a team, I just need the opportunity.

When I told the guys from the NFL that I was working out with an Arena team, they said, "Wow, that's good. All the quarterbacks that we've had come from Arena, they've all been able to make quick decisions and get rid of the ball quickly." That's been encouraging. And the head coach of the Roanoke Steam said, "I don't expect to have you here after April." The draft is the 21st in April, and then there are mini-camps in the first week of May.

It has been good to be around different coaches. The coaches out here for the Steam have been very positive, giving everybody high fives, giving me knuckles after a good pass, and that has really built my confidence up. Being with the Steam has really helped my confidence.

So, we'll see, Iím going to go over my options. If people are going to pay me to play, my goodness, I'll do it.

I want to get into coaching down the road, so being around quality football minds, offensive minds, that's all you can ask for, is to be around people and just soak from them, what their knowledge is. I've been very fortunate to be around Coach Bustle, who is noted and recognized as one of the top offensive minds in college football. I've been around him, I know his system, I know his offense.

I want to learn some other offenses along the way, so when I get a chance to get a coaching job somewhere, I'll be fully qualified, I'll know what Iím doing. My dream job would be to end up back here at Tech coaching. That would be the absolute ultimate. This area is just so perfect. I love it.

Meyer gets a well-deserved kiss
from his wife Rachel after leading
Tech to victory against Pitt.

Looking Back

Now that Michael Vick has declared early for the NFL draft, you might think that Meyer occasionally thinks about what it might be like to have one more year at Tech and be able to be the starting quarterback. But he has no regrets.

You know what? I totally would never change a thing. Honestly, I won't say, "I wish I could give all my life savings for one more year." My time at Tech, I appreciate all the fans and the coaches and the guys I played with. I would never change it. That is what has made me who I am.

Those injuries Ö looking back, it was those tough times, in those valleys, that I got to see who I really was, and what I'm made of. Those were great learning experiences that I would never trade. And those injuries, getting a little playing time here and there Ö I think, ten years from now, that maybe the fans will appreciate a guy who could have gone somewhere else when the going got tough but didn't, and stuck around as a second stringer, as a guy willing to play second fiddle to the best quarterback Virginia Tech has ever had. As a guy who saw his contributions off the field and in the locker room as more important than just his physical talents.

And that's what I think I want to be remembered for. What I bring to the team, and what I bring to the locker room, more than what I did on the playing field, which really wasn't much.

My life is about being a relationship person. First and foremost, there's my relationship with God, second with my wife, and then everyone else -- my buddies on the team, the coaching staff, my family. I want to build lasting, meaningful relationships with everyone I come in contact with. And that's just the way I've lived my life.

That's the thing that was ingrained in me, was that attitude is something that you control. No matter what the circumstances around you might be, if they're great or if they're pulling you down, you control the way you react to it and what your attitude is.

Those values, of patience, and of character, and integrity and determination, those are the things that have brought me through getting hurt, and throwing three picks in a game and having everyone call me the goat. You know, receivers are coming over and saying, "Sorry, I ran the wrong route," but I'm the one throwing the interceptions and looking like the jerk.

I feel like I just had a good base around me, and people saying, "Hey, Dave, not one minute of Eternity has been changed by what happened out there on the football field." And I say, "You know what, you're absolutely right. Nothing in Eternity has change because of me throwing those three picks." As much as I think they weren't my fault, it doesn't matter.

Twenty years down the road, no one's going to remember the interceptions or the touchdowns or the bowl games, what they're going to remember is the relationships that I built with the coaches, with the fans, and with the other players on the team. Those are the things that we're going to remember, and those are the things that we're going to take from this game.

That's what will last in my career, and those are the things that I appreciate the most of my time at Tech, the relationships that were built.

I tell players who come here on recruiting trips, Tech is the place to be. They tell me what other schools they're looking at, and I tell them, you don't want to go there. You want to come to Tech, where there's a very good chance every year that you'll go to an Alliance Bowl.

Tech has been so good. There's a reason why guys like Kevin Jones, and Fred Lee, and Bryan Randall are coming to Tech. They're seeing the quality of play, and an intact coaching staff, and they're saying, I want to be a part of that.

The ball is rolling, and it's going fast, and it's going in the right direction. People just want to jump on with it.

Will Stewart is the founder and General Manager of TechSideline.com.  He writes the News and Notes section, game previews, and game reports for TSL, writes and edits for the TSL Extra, and generally runs the place with his prodigious and productive brain.


          

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