When Jon Oyler played linebacker at Blue Springs South High School, he was considered one of the premier prep defenders in the state.
Fast forward two decades and Oyler, who is now the Jaguars head coach, is working with a young man who will soon make his mark at the University of Wisconsin.
Skyler Meyers – the Suburban Big Six Conference Defensive Player of the Year and a semifinalist for the Simone Award Committee’s Buck Buchanan Award as the top lineman or linebacker in the metro area – has redefined the art of playing linebacker at a school that is known for its defensive prowess.
“He’s a special player and a special young man,” Oyler said of the Badgers’ Division I commit. “Just look at him – 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, strong, tough, a high football IQ and his motor is always going 100 mph.
“And he has worked so hard the past two years to make himself a complete player. With all the injuries we had this year, we asked him to do some things, play some different positions, and he did it without questioning our decision and he did it well. He’s one of the best in school history, that’s for sure.”
Meyers is a striking individual both on and off the football field, unlike his coach, who used hustle, grit and determination to always seek out the ball carrier.
“It’s been amazing working with Coach Oyler and our defensive coaches,” Meyers said. “Coach Oyler is a great defensive mind. I am so blessed to have worked with him at South. He is responsible for so much of my growth as a player and a person.”
With his trademark long, blond hair and chiseled features, Meyers could be a doppelganger for one of his favorite athletes – Green Bay Packers All-Pro linebacker Clay Matthews.
“Clay had a little something to do with the hair,” said a grinning Meyers, who finished the season with 92 tackles, 16 for loss, two sacks, three forced fumbles and one interception. “But I just wanted to be different, be my own man. I might do some different things with it – but when it comes time to practice or play, all I’m thinking about is my game, and not my hair.”
In his last game as a Jaguar, he had 12 tackles in a season-ending 31-21 loss to crosstown rival Blue Springs in the district semifinals.
After the game, he had a large bandage under his left eye and and his face was caked with blood, sweat and mud, but that didn’t stop him from congratulating many of the Wildcats he has grown up with over the years.
“Skyler, man, he can play – and he can hit,” Blue Springs senior running back Aveion Bailey, a Simone Award finalist, said of Meyers at the time. “He’s a great player. It’s been so much fun competing against him all these years.”
The weekend of the loss to Blue Springs, the University of Wisconsin reached out to Meyers after seeing a video he had posted featuring many of his highlight plays from this season.
“I posted the video and got the call from Wisconsin. Man, it was crazy,” Meyers said. “It was a crazy weekend – playing my last high school game and getting that call from Wisconsin.
“I went for a visit, and it was like a sea of red – a lot like Arrowhead Stadium. I loved it and can’t wait to play there. Big Ten football – it doesn’t get any bigger or better than that.”
And it doesn’t get any bigger or better than being Skyler Meyers, Oyler said.
“Skyler can play at any level,” Oyler said. “He has size, speed and mobility. I was hard on him – real hard – and he met and exceeded all my expectations. I’m proud of him.”