NC State

How NC State’s Jakobi Meyers went from the bench to ‘SportsCenter’

N.C. State’s Jakobi Meyers (11) flips into the end zone at the end of a 71-yard touchdown reception at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahasee Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017.
N.C. State’s Jakobi Meyers (11) flips into the end zone at the end of a 71-yard touchdown reception at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahasee Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. ehyman@newsobserver.com

Some games you make “SportsCenter,” other games only your mom cheers for you.

N.C. State receiver Jakobi Meyers prefers the former to the latter. He has experienced both in the past two weeks.

Meyers’ 71-yard touchdown catch, capped off by an impromptu flip, made ESPN’s highlight reel. His career-best 112-yard game helped the Wolfpack knock off Florida State 27-21 this past Saturday.

In a 49-16 home win over Furman on Sept. 16, Meyers dressed for the game but didn’t play. He was being disciplined for a poor week of practice. Still, every time he went to get water, Meyers could hear his mom, Tonija, cheering for him.

“I don’t know why she was so happy,” Meyers said.

Meyers gave his mom, and every other N.C. State fan, plenty of reasons to cheer him during the Florida State game. The 6-3, 193-pound third-year sophomore showed his big-play potential with his second career touchdown.

On second-and-12 from N.C. State’s 29-yard line, Meyers, lined up in the slot to quarterback Ryan Finley’s left. Meyers ran a slant and caught the ball at N.C. State 41-yard line over the out-stretched arms of an FSU defender. Safety Derwin James, one of the best players in college football, met Meyers at the FSU 43-yard line but Meyers faked to his left and shook James.

“I did my favorite move,” Meyers said. “I dead-legged him (and) he went away.”

James’ left hand grazed Meyers’ face mask, but that was only time Meyers was touched on the play. He raced 40 yards toward the end zone and then started a front flip at the 2.

Meyers, who was flagged for excessive celebration for the flip, figured he would just land on his back and roll through the end zone. Instead, he surprised himself and landed on both feet about 5 yards into the end zone.

“I don’t even think I can physically do it again,” Meyers said of the flip and the landing.

After some extra conditioning drills in practice on Tuesday, Meyers isn’t going to try the flip again anyway. That move has been retired, not that coach Dave Doeren gave him much of a choice.

“Other than the somersault,” Doeren said. “He had a great game.”

Meyers has already proven to be a quick learner. He began his career at quarterback but moved to receiver last season. He had five catches for 62 yards and a touchdown in the season-opener against South Carolina.

The quick start got to his head. The week before the Furman game, Meyers said he got complacent and lazy in practice.

“I started to slow down a lot (in drills),” Meyers said. “I was just going through the motions.”

To the point that Doeren noticed.

“It was that bad,” Meyers said. “I was really slacking.”

So before the Furman game Doeren told Meyers he could dress, but he wasn’t going to get on the field.

“When you make mistakes,” Doeren said. “It’s your job as a player to make up for them. He said he would.”

Meyers did. A little tough love against Furman went a long way against Florida State.

“I think a lot of players take it to heart when somebody is hard on them,” Meyers said. “I know I did, of course.

“The way (the coaches) stuck with me, I just felt like they truly believed in me. I apologized for everything and they put me back in there.”

After the way he played at FSU, Meyers’ mom won’t be the only one cheering for him against Syracuse.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

Syracuse at NC State

Where: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh

When: Saturday, 12:20 p.m.

Broadcast info: WRAZ, WatchESPN.com, theacc.com

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