FAIRFIELD – On Wednesday Fairfield’s Ryder Meyer committed to the University of Montana football team, becoming the first Griz recruit in the 2019 class. This news came just two weeks after Meyer was named a finalist for the U.S. Army-Pro Football Hall of Fame Award for Excellence in a ceremony attended by former Patriots and Raiders great Mike Haynes. MTN Sports caught up with the busy junior to talk about the last few weeks and his future with the Eagles and Griz.
MTN SPORTS: Ryder, I can’t imagine anyone has had a better April than you. First the Army/NFL Hall of Fame honor, and now committing to the Griz. How would you describe the past few weeks?
RYDER MEYER, FAIRFIELD JUNIOR: “Surreal almost. You know first with the Army thing I wasn’t expecting to be a finalist or anything and to be presented with that award by Mike Haynes especially was just something super cool. And now to have the opportunity to play college football that I’ve been dreaming for, praying for, that’s just something that you just can’t put into words.”
MTN SPORTS: Tell me about receiving the offer from the Griz, how did it happen?
RM: “I’m good buddies with Ryan Tirrell from Missoula Loyola, coach (Bobby) Hauck’s nephew. Ryan and I were registering for junior day, and coach Hauck came up to both of us and asked if I knew Ryan and I told him I stayed at his house the previous night. He said he needed to have a talk just us three in his offices after the scrimmage. After the spring scrimmage, Ryan and I went up to his room. We talked for a little bit, and then he told us that they had (scholarship) money for both of us.”
MTN SPORTS: Must have been a cool moment. You committed on Wednesday and then Ryan announced his decision on Thursday. Did you guys plan it that way?
RM: “We kind of knew right when we got offered that we were going to commit. We talked about it and we both decided we knew were going to commit this week. We were both going to commit on Friday, but coach Hauck said he was going to be out of office, so I just knew I wanted to get it done with, I’m going to commit today and then he said I’ll commit tomorrow.”
MTN SPORTS: Now that it’s out of the way, is it a weight off the shoulders having your college decision taken care of?
RM: “It really is, I can put this behind me and just start focusing on the summer and getting better and getting our team better and getting ready for my senior season.”
MTN SPORTS: At what point did you realize that playing football for the Griz or just playing in college in general might be a reality?
RM: “College football has been a dream of mine forever. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I didn’t know that a school was going to give me a chance or what not, but as junior year started getting over, more and more schools started reaching out to me and my dad (Fairfield coach Les Meyer) told me, ‘now you realize you have a chance to play college football’. When Montana offered, it wasn’t an opportunity I wanted to turn down. I knew that this is what I wanted to do.”
MTN SPORTS: This state can be so divided sometimes, were you a Cat or Griz fan growing up?
RM: “Growing up I went to as many Montana games as I could with a friend. I loved watching the small town Montana guys like myself or Chase Reynolds or Colt Anderson and that’s just the kind of player that I want to be – looking up and watching those guys, coach (Shann) Schillinger especially. I went to a MSU camp with the Cats going into eigth grade and I had a really good experience there too. Ever since then I liked both teams kind of but once high school started I decided more and more that the University of Montana is where I wanted to be.”
MTN SPORTS: Coach Hauck brings a lot of energy and has a history of success at Montana. What are your impressions of his return to the Griz and playing for him in the future?
RM: “Coach Hauck is a great guy, that’s probably one of the things that sold me the most. Him knowing how to win, his tradition of football history, that’s just something that I want to be a part of. Hopefully I can bring something to it.”
MTN SPORTS: You do a little bit of everything here at Fairfield – offense, defense and special teams. Do you know where you might fit on the Griz roster?
RM: “We don’t really know yet. I talked to coach (Timm) Rosenbach on the phone the other day and he said that they had me listed as athlete whether it’s receiver or safety. They aren’t sure yet. He asked me where I wanted to play and I told him I don’t have a preference, I just want to play football for the Griz is all.”
MTN SPORTS: Going to Griz games going up, have you imagined what it will be like to take the field at Wa-Griz in a Montana uniform?
RM: “That’s surreal. I just got goosebumps thinking about it. You get goosebumps watching players run out of the Griz helmet, that’s something super special to be a part of.”
MTN SPORTS: I imagine your parents, friends and community are awfully proud of you. How special has the support been here in Fairfield?
RM: “The community is great, they support the football team and basketball team and the students support in the classroom a ton and that just means a lot. My family support means a ton, if it wasn’t for them and wasn’t for my friends and community this opportunity wouldn’t be available to me.”
MTN SPORTS: I know you had great friendships with Lauryn Goldhahn and Baker’s Luke Gonsioroski. What sort of impact did their lives and their passing have on your life?
RM: “I try and every time I step on a football field or basketball court, I try to play to honor Luke and Lauryn (Goldhahn). They were both really good friends of mine. Two of the best people I’ve ever met in my life. Lauryn was such a light to everyone. Luke was very spiritual, faithful. When he had the cancer, seeing him never lose his faith is something I want to have as well. Having that person as a mentor and role model means a lot. And to be able to play for them I think is something special.”
MTN SPORTS: Last spring Fairfield won the Class B track and field championship. I know you lost some really key pieces, but have a lot of solid athletes returning. What’s the outlook for the Eagles this season?
RM: “Losing Cantor (Coverdell) and Chandler (Allen) is hard, but Dawson (Allen) is fast as ever, Keeley (Bake) can jump out of the gym and then we have Isaac Clotfelter and Libien Becker and more key contributors that can put up some points. So we’ll have to wait and see, everyone is working hard and trying to get better every day so it will be a fun season.”