by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
One prized commodity that the Elk River football team lacks is the big, strong kids who can overpower you one-on-one.
Except for Jordan Meyer, that is. This senior tackle, formerly tight end, stands 6-foot-4 and carries 235 well-packed pounds. He is very athletic to boot, blessed with, as coaches put it, good feet and good hands, plus fine speed for his size.
“We don’t have a lot of guys like that running around,” said coach Steve Hamilton about his ground-pounding, 5-5 team that played in the section finals Friday night.
To maximize their top college prospect on the line, the Elks deployed him at tight end for a year and a half, plus some defensive-end duty, but in the last four games, Hamilton switched him to offensive tackle and nose tackle, changing his jersey from 88 to 68.
“After the Totino game, we had to move some people around,” said Hamilton, referring to a 35-0 loss in week five to an unbeaten, top-ranked team. “One of the reasons we’ve gotten better in our ground game is that we moved Jordan to tackle. And on defense, we had to get more athletic and get faster on the inside.”
On another team, Meyer would likely be a tight end, catching batches of passes. He did snag a game-winning touchdown at homecoming last year against Monticello and a 32-yard over-the-top TD in a win at Centennial this year.
“Jordan has great hands and has made some catches,” said Hamilton. “He’s still out there with No. 68 catching passes during our warm-ups.”
Meyer said he misses the chance to catch passes but otherwise is fine with the move. “I would rather have the feeling of winning. They told me that moving to tackle would help us try for a state championship.”
In the playoffs so far, the Elks have been making a big push with the revamped line, rushing for 485 yards against Willmar and 516 against Rogers. Meyer relishes contributing to that success.
Blocking is basically the same at either position, he said, except now he’s jousting with “fat defensive linemen, harder to move” rather than outside linebackers who are smaller but faster.
Moving to the nose has made defense a lot more fun. “Now I’m hitting the center, and I’m making a lot more tackles than I ever did.”
He got his first sack against Rogers, on a fourth-down play that ended the Royals’ last gasp.
Meyer saw some action both ways in 10th grade and became starting tight end and backup D-end last year when the Elks started winning. That season ended with two straight losses but the Elks this year have racked up their first two playoff wins since 2004.
“This is beyond exciting,” he said.
And the Elks have beaten arch-rival Rogers each year.
“Kids from school told me the two coolest sports events they ever saw were the Rogers games,” said Meyer. “It was pretty nice to hear that.”
Meyer has played some basketball but not with the school team. His main sports activity outside football is weight-lifting.
His other passions are spirituality — he’s a leader in the Elks Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter — and, get this, storm-chasing.
The weather has fascinated him since childhood. He checks online to learn where a storm will hit and drives there ahead of time to observe. Before he got his license, his mom would drive him to the sites.
“I especially enjoy destructive storms, like hail and straight-line wind, and I’ve seen some funnel clouds,” he said. “But I hate the destruction it causes.”
Meyer intends to play college football while pursuing a career in meteorology. He’s heard from several D-II teams and a few D-I’s. Said Hamilton: “He’ll probably be an offensive tackle at some place like St. Cloud. He’s got the good speed and the big frame where he could get up to 280, 290, if he wants to do that.”
THE MEYER SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 17 … Family: mother, Nicole; brother, Derek, 14 … Sport: football … Academics: 3.0 GPA … Other activities: DECA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes … College: undecided where; football; meteorology
Favorite stuff — Class: DECA, maths, sciences … TV shows: The Weather Channel, “Sponge Bob Square Pants” … Music: Biggie Smalls, Tupac, Justin Bieber … Food: chicken Alfredo, Olive Garden fare … Drink: chocolate milk … Reading: newspapers, front page and sports page … Teams: Vikings, Miami Heat … Athlete: LaBron James … Hobby: storm chasing … Would like to visit: “Australia, and see kangaroo”