He is quick, fast and can run and catch footballs on any route and at any place on the field. Newly converted walk-on slot receiver Nathan Meikle is becoming more comfortable with his new offensive assignments with every game.
“I think I have finally have become comfortable in this offense for the first time,” Meikle said. “I think I now see myself as being a receiver for the first time rather than just being a running back. Even the other day I had to step in as a running back for just a second and it felt good. I felt comfortable being back there but I’m feeling good now as a receiver as well. I’m just starting to feel a certain level of comfort now and I think I’m less nervous before the games.”
Coming out of Idaho Falls, BYU’s slot receiver had once rushed for 335 yards and five touchdowns in a single half of play during a high school football game. During BYU last contest with San Diego State, Meikle found himself taking a handoff from quarterback John Beck in the backfield.
“I do enjoy that yeah,” Meikle said. “It’s something coach Anae has put in and I definitely enjoy anytime I can take a handoff. I’ve only done it a couple of time but hope I can do it more in the future. I definitely enjoy it you know, but at the same time I also like catching the ball in open space now and it’s opened up a new side of football that I’ve never really been able to take part of before.
“At running back I was still always worried about my hands but finally now I think I’ve developed a lot better hand eye coordination. I feel more comfortable catching the ball and I’m not so worried about that as much anymore as I used to. It’s just become more natural for me.”
The switch to receiver has opened Meikle’s eyes to a whole new aspect of football. It’s also helped him become more of a complete player as well.
“It’s just kind of opened my eyes up to a different aspect of the game and it’s something I’ve never really experienced other than just flag football you know. It has been nice,” Meikle said.
With BYU heading into Albuquerque following a complete offensive meltdown on Mendenhall’s first road game, the Cougars hope to rebound by beating the Lobos of New Mexico.
“I think we’re confident that we will,” said Meikle. “Hopefully we worked out some of the bugs and we’re hopeful and confident that we have and that we will have a good week this week. That’s pretty much all we can do. We’ve worked hard this week in practice and things look good.”
Although Meikle feels the team is confident they will beat Lobos to give BYU its first division one victory on the season, he is not quite sure what it was that SDSU did to create such a problem for BYU’s offense.
“You know I wish I knew and to be honest, I don’t have a very savvy football mind,” said Meikle. “I just run my little five yard outs or ten yard in or try to beat the guy standing ahead of me. I personally don’t know the overall scheme and don’t know what they did differently to be honest with you. I did notice they dropped the nose guard back and were rushing two so maybe they were just dropping so many that we didn’t adjust as receivers. You know, I wish I did know better and maybe I should study more on that. I think a lot of times I just get into my zone and just focus on beating the guy in front of me that I don’t see the overall picture.”
Despite not knowing more of the overall X’s and O’s, one thing he firmly believed was that BYU would never have a 1-3 record after four games.
“Yeah, I never thought we would be one and three at this point,” Meikle said. “It’s been real surprising but at the same time we have to show our resilience and come out and play hard.”
For Meikle, adding another “W” in the win column against UNM has a personal meaning behind it. He happens to be best friends with 6’5”, 257-pound LDS tight end Logan Hall who is also from Idaho Falls.
“I’ve got one of my best friends [Logan Hall] who starts at tight end for New Mexico,” Meikle said. “We played high school ball together, played at Ricks [Junior College] together, played at Snow [Junior College] together and it will be fun to play against him.
“He’s an LDS kid and a good player. He’s number 82 or 87 I can’t remember, but he’s a good player and it will be fun to play against him. I mean, both of us come out of Idaho Falls and I don’t think any of us thought we would be playing division one ball so it’s kind of nice. I’m sure our families will be there watching and a lot of people back home will be watching on TV so it will be fun.”
Being good friends with someone who plays on a rival team, one would think there would be some friendly “jawing” between them. Meikle says this simply is not the case.
“No, we really don’t at all actually,” Meikle said. “I mean, me and some of my buddies up at Utah we jaw back and forth a little more, but me and Logan [Hall] we don’t really do that.”
Along with UNM tight end Logan Hall, Meikle has also become friends with other players on the team both past and present which also provides another personal element to Saturday’s contest.
“I’ve think I’ve got a little more insight on how their team is doing because I know some of the players on their team, and have met [quarterback] Kole Mckamey and Nick Speegle who’s not there anymore,” said Meikle. “I went and visited him a couple of summers a go and met a couple of the guys which will add another interesting aspect to the game.”
Meikle wanted to relay a message to BYU fans that might be a bit down and discouraged with at the current situation surrounding BYU’s football program.
“Just hang in with us,” he said. “We’re working hard and we’ve put in the time and it’s inevitable that we’re going to start improving. We’re going to start winning games with the way we are working, the coaching staff that we have and the players that we have it’s inevitable that we start winning games. Stay with us because it will happen.”