It’s not completely uncommon for a Division II quarterbacks coach to have professional experience. It is slightly more rare, however, for a quarterbacks coach to still be playing professionally.
Erik Meyer is exactly that. He took over as the quarterbacks coach, while Central Washington University head coach John Picha will coach the running backs.
Meyer, who played at Eastern Washington University, is on the Spokane Shock, an Arena Football League squad that was one win away from the Arena Bowl, but lost 65-57 in the conference championship.
After Eastern, in 2006, Meyer was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent. He’s also played for the Cologne Centurions, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, Utah Blaze and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
He broke eight Eagles’ records under head coach Beau Baldwin, and was named the top offensive player in the NCAA Division I-AA.
He set a record for FCS quarterbacks with at least 400 completions by posting a 166.5 career passing efficiency rating.
He is still the quarterback of the Shock, but in the AFL’s offseason, he is in charge of the Wildcats’ play-callers.
“It will help a ton,” Picha said. “Any time you can bring a guy like that in, who’s got a lot of different experiences under his belt, and has been a winner wherever he goes, that’s something that you want your players to be around. I think he’ll be a really great fit here.”
For one of the first falls in the past decade, the Wildcats don’t know who their starting quarterback will be for the first game, which is against Texas A&M University-Kingsville at 1 p.m. on Sept. 7 at Tomlinson Stadium.
Jake Nelson started the spring game and worked with the first-team offense in camp, but the job is still between him, Colin Walsh and Justin Lane.
“They’re all really competitive and all want to learn,” Meyer said. “That’s really all you can ask for. Whoever starts the first game will have to earn it.”
Nelson said this year’s offense will take more shots deep, while still having an emphasis on the running game. He said since Meyer began coaching, he has noticed his mechanics improving and said his ball has more zip on it.
With the releasing of former head coach Blaine Bennett, who called the offensive plays, a void was left with the quarterbacks position.
After the conference championship, Meyer was with his family in Los Angeles when Baldwin called and warned him there may be an opening at Central. Meyer began coaching at Eastern last year.
He got the call, flew out to Ellensburg — where he had never been before — at 5 a.m. and made the Wildcats’ next practice.
Nelson said Meyer’s enthusiasm has carried over onto the QBs, and he can tell Meyer is happy to be coaching them.
“He learned the offense really quick,” Nelson said. “He’s a cool guy, and has been helping us with our reads. We just want to spread out the field, get some big plays and throw some touchdowns.”