College football is back! And with the return of CFB always comes a handful of incredible stories. Saturday night’s Iowa State game was special. Starting defensive end, Mitchell Meyers, got named as team captain by his fellow Cyclones; nothing seems more fitting.
In February of 2015, Meyers was given the devastating news that Hodgkin’s lymphoma had invaded his body and his football career. Meyers started as a freshman in 2013, started every game for the Cyclones in 2014 and was expected to be a key component in 2015. But during winter workouts, Meyers experienced unusual neck pains. He then learned the devastating news. If one thing is for sure, his determination was never questioned. Even while battling this horrible disease, Meyers put his team and the game he loves as a top priority. Although he was unable to practice alongside his teammates, this Cyclone still didn't slow down. In the 2015 season, bouncing from his home state of Texas and college home of Iowa, Meyers never missed a workout.
Also in the midst of the 2015 season, Head Coach Paul Rhodes, was fired. Matt Campbell was the one to step up next. Through his treatment, Meyers got to know his new head coach over the phone. The two finally met during spring practice but according to the NCAA, Campbell’s admiration for his defensive end was immediate, even just from their phone conversations:
"This young man that had this upbeat spirit about himself going through this, and it can put you in your place really fast. Tough days come, and are they really that tough? Here's what this guy is going through. Mitchell's last words to me (on the phone) were, 'I'm coming back to play. I'm not coming back to be just a story.'"
During fall camp, Meyers was finally cleared to fully rejoin his team. To his teammates, the message was clear: Mitchell Meyers was back and ready to work. The team named him captain. Myers made it clear to everyone that he didn’t want handouts. He wanted to work and truly earn his starting spot back. He did just that. Beating out two strong players in Jhaustin Thomas and J.D. Waggoner, on Monday, Meyers was named a starter for the Saturday night's game against Northern Iowa. Meyers has acknowledged that because of his battle with cancer it is possible that he might never make it back to where he was before he got sick. But the NCAA also reported that the defensive end says he feels as good as ever heading into the 2016 season. With his team behind him, Meyers acknowledges his past but he has full belief in his ability:
"I've actually been thinking about this...if you were to tell me I'd get cancer two years ago, I would have never believed you. And 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. Right now I'm in a really good position to succeed."
Meyers is a senior this year, which only makes his story even better. “One of the best stories in college football.” Matt Campbell confidently says. This lineman will wear no. 58 in his final season, honoring a former coach. In 2014, beloved Iowa State line coach Curtis Bray died of pulmonary embolism. Bray wore 58 when he played at Pittsburg. In 2014, senior defensive end Cory Morrissey did the same thing to honor Bray. So now, seeing Meyers’ toughness and determination, the team hands no. 58 to him.
Cancer took a shot at Mitchell Meyers. But it couldn’t take him down. Now, he’s coming back, proving himself and stepping in as a key piece to the Iowa State Cyclones. Their season kicked off Saturday night in Jack Trice Stadium. Unfortunately, the Cyclones fell 25-20 to UNI. But like I said, no one doubts Meyer's determination and overall gratitude to be back on the field.
No. 58 on the Cyclones is staring cancer in the face, proving he beat it. He's making his team and family proud. He's making the College Football world turn around to watch. Mitchell Meyers is a survivor. Mitchell Meyers is a starter. Mitchell Meyers is a Cyclone.
Mitchell Meyers is an inspiration.
Leading Image Credits: Big 12 Digital Network Youtube