Outback spotlight: Life is good for tight end Myers
Dec. 30, 2008
TAMPA, Fla. -- Life can't get much better for Brandon Myers. In fact, the 6-foot-4 senior tight end from Prairie City, Iowa, would probably be the first to tell you that he is living his dream: A football-playing Iowa boy whose final season as a member of the University of Iowa football team has been filled with big plays and big moments and -- if he has his way -- the best is yet to come.
Consider the facts:
-- Myers became the starting tight end four games into the Hawkeyes' 2007 season when high school All-American Tony Moeaki suffered multiple season-ending injuries in the first quarter of Iowa's game at Wisconsin.
"When Tony went down, I had an opportunity to step in. The `Next Man In' thing," Myers said. "I had been waiting, preparing for the opportunity to contribute. As a friend, I was sorry to see Tony go down but, as a teammate, it was my responsibility to be ready."
-- A self-described "scrawny" 215-pounder coming out of high school, Myers has beefed up to 250 pounds. His contributions to the Hawkeyes have also beefed up, reaching career highs of 30 catches for 392 yards in 2008. Included among his 30 receptions are four touchdown grabs.
"I came in at 215 and there aren't too many 215-pound tight ends in the Big Ten," Myers smiled. "I owe a lot of my success to our strength and conditioning program. It was really, really important. Coach (Chris) Doyle and the staff really put me through the work and it's paid off."
-- A first-team all-state selection as a prep at Prairie City-Monroe High School, Myers was named first-team all-Big Ten by the coaches after the 2008 regular season, a 12-game slate that saw Myers catch four passes on five different Saturdays. As impressive as those numbers are, think about this: Three of Myers' four catches in Iowa's victory over No.3, unbeaten and nationally ranked Penn State, moved the chains for the Hawkeyes and two of them came in Iowa's game-winning scoring drive.
"It -- that game -- is the highlight of the season, my career, so far. National television... No. 3 team in the nation... can't top that."
You can, Myers would tell you in a heartbeat, with victory over South Carolina in the 2009 Outback Bowl on New Year's Day.
"We know they are going to be tough. We just have to be prepared," he said. "You know, it will be January 1 -- New Year's Day -- and everyone will be watching. It will be our time to show everyone what the Hawkeyes are all about."
Myers knows what he's about. He's just another Iowa boy who is living the dream...a starter on the biggest stage in the state of Iowa: The playing field inside Kinnick Stadium. He's worked hard and wouldn't trade this moment in time for any other.
"It means a lot. Like a lot of kids, I grew up an Iowa fan, watching them run out of the tunnel. It was something I always wanted to do, but I didn't' know if it was going to happen. Luckily for me, everything fell into place and it's been a great five years."
Five years. They always go by so fast...particularly when they include a hiccup. Myers' hiccup was the 2006 season, when his perseverance was tested. After seeing action in all 12 of Iowa's games and earning the team's Next Man In Awards for his play on special teams in 2005, Myers wasn't listed on the two-deep after spring drills.
He kept his nose to the grindstone, however, and was ready when his teammate's season was cut short. Like the long list of Hawkeyes who seized the opportunity when it was presented, Myers established himself as a go-to Hawkeye with 17 catches and four touchdown catches in a season that ended in disappointment: A loss to Western Michigan on Senior Day at Kinnick, a loss that meant the Hawkeyes wouldn't go to a bowl game for the first time in six years.
Which is one reason why Senior Day 2008 was so special for Myers. The victory over Purdue gave Iowa seven wins and a lock on postseason competition. It also -- as it always does -- brought tears to the eyes of student-athletes, parents and fans.
"It was kind of surreal to see my parents out there, waiting for me at the 50 (yard line during the pregame ceremony). They had done so much for me...camps, tournaments, visits. It was a very special moment for me and my family," he said. "The victory...well, it was icing on the cake."
That Senior Day win, while important, came just seven days after the Hawkeyes' thrilling upset of the Nittany Lions and the glow of the moment was still bright for many, including Myers and the other members of one very exclusive fraternity: The 11 Hawkeyes in the huddle prior to Daniel Murray's 31-yard game-winner.
"I was nervous," recalled Myers, adding quickly that he didn't want to say anything to his teammate as he prepared for the biggest moment in his career. "I can't imagine what Murray was feeling...there was a lot of pressure on him. But we all had confidence in him and were all very excited for him. I'll never forget that day."
Nor will he his days as a Hawkeye. It's been everything and more for Myers. That should come as no surprise...he's living the dream after all.
"It's been great. I wouldn't change it for the world," he said.
To view a 34-image photo gallery from Tuesday's practice and Bowl Beach Day -- available exclusively on hawkeyesports.com -- CLICK HERE.
Fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes who live in the Heartland or in the Sunshine State or in all points between should note that the UI Athletics Ticket Office is accepting ticket orders for the 2009 Outback Bowl. Click here to purchase your tickets online. Fans can also purchase over the phone by calling 1-800 IA-HAWKS or over-the-counter at the UI Athletics Ticket Office in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.