Homecoming king: Matt Myers embraces starting role
Quarterback Matt Myers is fresh off his first season win, but doesn’t want hometown-hero status just yet
Matt Myers is entering his second season as a pre-written success story.
He led his high school football team to a state championship and he’s been on a Bulls football team that went 7-1 in the regular season.
But UB’s 38-10 win over Robert Morris Thursday was, understandably, a different type of gratification for Myers.
When he looked out into the stands at UB Stadium and, among the 18,412 attendees watching on, he saw friends –– among them former teammates –– as he brought the Bulls to victory during his first NCAA start.
“It’s something that I dreamed about and wished for,” Myers said. “I definitely worked my tail off for it. The fact that it’s here and I’m living it, I will give myself a pat on the back but I’m also not done.”
Myers, a redshirt freshman who recently earned his gig as UB football’s starting quarterback, is nowhere near done. After securing West Seneca West a New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class A football championship in 2017, and after a high school senior season of 2,397 passing yards and 24 passing touchdowns, Myers had to adjust to not seeing much play as a Bull last year.
But this season, although he humbly won’t admit it, he’s on his way to becoming a bit of a hometown hero.
Myers wasn’t a big UB fan growing up in Buffalo –– and ironically grew up in a household of Alabama fans –– but he remembers going to a couple Bulls games with his father.
Before he was No. 10 on the Bulls and around the time that he sat in the stands at UB Stadium, Myers sported No. 8 on his back during modified games. This was before he saw Robert Griffin III show off on the Washington Redskins. Once he did, from his sophomore year of high school onward, he stuck to 10.
In high school, Myers transferred from Bishop Timon-Saint Jude to West Seneca West shortly before his senior season, but the new school and new number proved to work.
Myers sported the No. 10 in 2017 when he brought the state championship to West Seneca West, ending the team’s season with a perfect 13-0 record and garnered national attention.
“It was just a long time coming after everything that happened over the summer and having to transfer there unexpectedly,” Myers said. “It was a big relief to be honest, and just the icing on the cake after everything that happened.”
The next step for Myers was college ball, and he committed to playing with the Bulls after visiting 15 camps across the country.
“It’s fun but it’s a stressful recruiting process,” Myers said. “I always had UB on my mind. I, just as anyone else, was looking for more. But at the same time knowing what you have, and it’s still a good school to go to.”
He admits he was hoping to go away for school, but UB’s interest before his senior season made him feel like a priority. And remembering that he already had a local fanbase of loved ones gave him the extra push.
Myers only played in one game last season against Bowling Green but he didn’t attempt a pass. Since then, and after recovering from a spring injury, he spent his summer training intensively to earn this year’s starting position after QB Tyree Jackson, opted for the NFL, competing for the role against guys like Dominic Johnson and Kyle Vantrease.
“I thought all the quarterbacks are going to do things, when called upon, that will win football games for us,” Head Coach Lance Leipold said during the last preseason practice this year. “But in the overall evaluation, we thought Matt had the best camp and is going to give us the best opportunity.”
Myers only attempted 10 passes in his first start against Robert Morris last week but his 69 passing yards led to two touchdowns and his 47 running yards led to a touchdown as well.
One game can’t define a player, though, and Myers has 11 left this season –– and a whole college football career ahead of him –– to prove himself as a Bull.
His next stop Saturday at Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, where attendance can reach over 106,000, isn’t worrying him too much. He attended Penn State’s Nittany Lions camp in 2016, but still never played for a crowd of that magnitude.
“It’s just another game of football,” Myers said. “There’s going to be a difference of crowd that I haven’t played in before but at the end of the day, it’s still football.”
But Myers, even if he pulls off the win against Penn State, doesn’t see himself as a hometown hero.
“Nah, I’m just a guy. A normal guy. If that’s what they call me, that’s what they call me.”
Brenton J. Blanchet is the editor-in-chief and can be reached at Brenton.Blanchet@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @BrentonBlanchet.