Matt Myers got back to business this weekend.
Sidelined in the fall because of a neck injury and subsequent surgery, the redshirt freshman rejoined the University at Buffalo football team for the first day of spring practices Sunday at the Murchie Family Fieldhouse.
“I woke up and felt excited,” Myers, the former Bishop Timon and West Seneca West quarterback said. “I felt free. I was ready.”
It’s been a long road to a return for Myers, who earned the job as UB’s starting quarterback in August, but whose season ended after he sustained the injury Sept. 28 in a 34-20 loss at Miami (Ohio).
“After the injury, I got two weeks off, and I had some casual throwing,” Myers said. “This offseason, during January and February, I was just throwing once a week, but this was legit.
“About two weeks ago, I got cleared, full-go. This was a sigh of relief, to be honest, to know that I’m back and to play football again.”
UB coach Lance Leipold confirmed to The News last week that Myers underwent surgery, but Myers did not disclose details. He did say, however, that there was a possibility that his football career could have ended because of the neck injury.
“That was probably one of the hardest things I had to hear,” Myers said. “I’m just blessed to be where I am, and I’m playing football again.”
Myers is one of four quarterbacks who took part in UB’s first day of practice, along with Trevor Bycznski, early enrollee Casey Case and Starpoint graduate Aaron Chase. Kyle Vantrease, who started eight games last season for UB, did not practice and wore a walking boot on his right foot.
Myers threw for 602 yards and six touchdowns on 49 of 105 passing, and was intercepted four times. He also ran for 94 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries in 2019.
But Myers’ season ended a little more than five weeks after he was named UB’s starting quarterback.
Less than a month after the game against Miami, Leipold told reporters that Myers was finished for the season, due to what the sixth-year UB coach termed an “upper-body injury.” The rehabilitation and recovery process, Myers said, went better and faster than expected.
“You can take it two ways,” Myers said of his return. “You can look at as, you’re excited to be back, but you learn from it, also.
“You can get down on yourself and never be back, or you can use it to motivate you to be back to where you were, and be better than that.”
Myers made a point to ingrain himself in the team’s day-to-day fabric while he was recovering.
“He’s worked diligently with our trainers,” Leipold said. “He stayed positive, kept the faith in what he had to do, stayed attentive to what we were asking him in the meeting room. We used him as an extra coach. He was involved in signaling, all those things that force you to be mentally a part of the game. I think he’s had an excellent offseason, so far.
“I think you’re going to see a stronger and more seasoned Matt Myers.”
UB running back Jaret Patterson saw how Myers dedicated himself to his return.
“His mindset, his mentality was that he was going to come back, stronger than ever,” Patterson said. “He stayed in the film room. He took care of his body, and it’s going to show in these couple practices and in spring ball. He did a lot, that some people haven’t noticed, but he is definitely, definitely working.”
Myers said he got a new perspective from being on the sidelines.
“It opened up a different game for me,” Myers said. “I learned a lot from just watching things. What to do and what not to do. Definitely a new perspective.”