KICKER MIKE MEYER
Arrival: The junior kicker won the job in 2010 as a walk-on true freshman from Dubuque Wahlert. He beat out senior Daniel Murray, who had a leg injury early in camp, and then-sophomore Trent Mossbrucker.
Meyer’s rise illustrates the white-hot cauldron that kicker is.
Mossbrucker made 13 of his first 15 attempts as a true freshman and then was pulled in favor of Murray when it was time to kick the game-winner against No. 3 Penn State in ’08. Mossbrucker was No. 1 in ’10 and then had a PAT blocked at Arizona, preserving a tie for the Wildcats in a game the Hawkeyes ultimately lost.
That’s when Meyer took over.
Meyer, who won kickoff duties in camp during his freshman year, received an offer that included some scholarship money from Northern Iowa. He planned to visit Iowa State before Iowa called and asked him to walk on. He received a scholarship after the 2010 season.
Takeoff 2012: Mike Meyer saw what you saw in 2011. He didn’t like it any better than you did.
The Iowa kicker got off to a fabulous start, hitting on 12 of his first 14 field goals. Then, he missed a 24-yarder at Minnesota. The Hawkeyes went on to lose, 22-21, and Meyer hit just 2 of his final 6 field goals the rest of the way.
Touchbacks also dipped from Meyer’s freshman to sophomore year. In 2010, Meyer had 15 touchbacks; last year, he had four. That showed up with inconsistent kick coverage.
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz backed Meyer all last season. There is competition – Mossbrucker is a senior and walk-on Marshall Koehn will be a red-shirt freshman — but Meyer remains confident. He said recently that he had an excellent spring and wants to carry that into the summer.
“I know how I can get better and I think the things I’ve taken away from the spring will help me progress,” said Meyer, who’s 28 of 37 (76 percent) in his two seasons. For comparison, former Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding finished his career 67 of 83 (81 percent).
Meyer said the strategy on kickoff this season is kick the ball as far as possible. A touchback is a victory. No return is the best return. Also, Meyer said he feels his leg is stronger this season. He said, depending on the day, his range is 50 to 55 yards on field goals.
His experience should be enough to hold off the contenders, but Meyer was a walk-on freshman who won the job in 2010. It is a competition.