The University of Cincinnati football program has added a high-profile walk-on.
Nate Meyer, the son of former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, has joined the program as a wide receiver, coach Luke Fickell told Yahoo Sports. Nate Meyer, 21, was a scholarship baseball player at Cincinnati the past two seasons. He’s switching sports to better prepare himself for his goal of becoming a college football coach, as he’s hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Nate Meyer will be a junior in the fall and has already begun taking part in Zoom calls with the Bearcats wide receivers. Fickell said that special teams likely looms as his best chance to contribute.
Nate Meyer is looking forward to the experience to help him on his coaching path. He joins one of the hottest programs in college football, as Fickell has led Cincinnati to a 22-5 record the past two seasons and a likely top-20 preseason ranking.
Nate Meyer said he has a sense of the competition level from spending the summer before his freshman year working out with Ohio State’s football team. That experience ultimately planted the seed for him to become a football coach.
“I fell in love with the whole environment and the people there,” Nate Meyer said. “I developed great relationships. After that, I had a fall season that didn’t have football. It hit me hard that I missed football.”
Urban Meyer said that his son changed his major at Cincinnati from business to psychology after the fall of his freshman year. That’s the same major Urban Meyer had as a student at Cincinnati, where he played football after a failed minor league baseball stint and eventually got into football coaching.
Urban Meyer recalled Nate Meyer being back in Columbus on fall break from Cincinnati in 2018, after he’d spent a few days with the Buckeyes as they prepared to play Nebraska. Nate Meyer called his father a few days later.
“Dad, I made a decision. I changed my major to psychology like you were and I want to be a football coach,” Urban Meyer said with a laugh by phone on Wednesday. “I thought, ‘Oh boy.’”
Nate Meyer said his father has been supportive and excited about the move. His mother, Shelley, was a bit more hesitant. Nate Meyer also joins his brother-in-law, Ohio State quarterback coach Corey Dennis, in the family profession. “Oh, God,” Nate Meyer said, recalling his mother’s reaction. “There’s another one going on this path.”
Nate Meyer is 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds. He made all-district in football at Bishop Watterson High School in Dublin, Ohio. He chose baseball in college and was a role player on Cincinnati’s NCAA tournament team, the program’s first NCAA appearance since 1974.
Nate Meyer developed a close relationship with UC baseball coach Scott Googins, which made breaking the news to him difficult.
“I got pretty emotional after I hung up the phone with him,” Nate Meyer said. “He was one of my favorite coaches I’ve had in my life. He was supportive and completely understood, he knew my passion for football and what I wanted to do in my career.”
Nate Meyer began exploring the possibility by speaking with Cincinnati strength coach Brady Collins, who he got to know when Collins worked for Mickey Marotti at Ohio State. “Am I in over my head?” Nate Meyer asked him. “Is this a possible thing?”
In late March, he called Fickell, who he’s known since he was 12. Nate Meyer and Fickell’s friendly banter typically revolves around the rivalry between their high schools. Watterson graduates Nate Meyer and Craig Fada would tease Fickell, who went to Columbus-area rival St. Frances DeSales.
Meyer’s role, as with all walk-ons, projects to be a modest one.
“It’ll be interesting to see athletically if he can hang with some of those guys,” Fickell said in a phone interview. “Special teams would be my picture of what’s fitting for him.”
Even while playing baseball at UC, Nate Meyer made it clear to his coaches that he wanted to get into college football coaching. He took a four-day trip with his father in the summer of 2019 to visit training camps at Army, Boston College, Toledo and Bowling Green.
Along with the camp trip last spring, Nate Meyer has spent time learning the nuances of the game – like special teams play – by sitting with his father for lengthy film sessions. “He’s working really hard at it,” Urban Meyer said. “Studies football and reads books. He’s really into it.”
Nate Meyer said he’s going in looking to contribute whatever way he can. “I know that I won’t be dragging behind,” he said. “I know that I can help push forward.”
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