Erik Meyer knows ups and downs, and this season he’s looking to experience more of the ups while controlling downs for the Spokane Shock.
Meyer, a record-setting quarterback for Eastern Washington who won the 2005 Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in NCAA Division I-AA football, played in a pair of games for the Shock in 2010 and spent over half of last season as a backup quarterback for the Arena Football League’s Utah Blaze.
He was traded to Spokane on May 30 and led the Shock to victory against the Philadelphia Soul in his first game.
The next week he suffered a major concussion tackling a Chicago Rush player after throwing an interception and never quite made it back to full strength down the stretch of what ended up being the worst season – as far as record – the Shock franchise has had.
The Shock were also plagued with injuries last season and went through seven quarterbacks.
“Erik had played really well up to the point of his concussion in his first game,” said first-year Shock coach Andy Olson, who was hired to succeed Rob Keefe after serving as Keefe’s offensive coordinator last year.
“He was basically sitting in the dark for a week – it was that bad,” Olson added. “A few weeks later he got tackled the wrong way and was injured again.”
Olson, who brought in Meyer and rookie quarterback Adam Froman to compete for the starting position this season, called Meyer the front-runner following the Shock’s fifth day of training camp on Wednesday, citing that Meyer is in excellent condition after a rigorous offseason workout schedule.
“I knew I had to be in a lot better shape this year,” Meyer said. “I’ve prepared myself as well as I can. I feel really good this year.
“Being the front-runner doesn’t mean you can coast through, though. I’ve still got to compete with myself and the other guys every day and I’m working hard and progressing.”
Meyer’s training schedule in the offseason included a boxing program, core strength training and what he called explosive workouts.
“Erik has been doing really well. I don’t think his body was ready last year,” Olson added. “He’s trained so hard in the offseason. He’s lost weight and looks ready to go.
“He’s still got a lot to learn, but he’s been making the right throws, he’s healthy, he’s in shape, we’re very happy thus far with his performance.”
Froman, the other contender for the job, was most recently on the practice squad for the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and prior to that was in training camp with the Atlanta Falcons.
He played at Santa Rosa Junior College for one season and transferred to Louisville, where spent the next two seasons.
“Adam has improved daily – he’s gotten a lot better than he was even a couple days ago,” Olson said. “He’s a very accurate quarterback, so that does help a lot, but he’s starting to make the quick reads that are tough to make. We’re seeing progression with him.
“I hate to say that anyone is the starter until we’re ready to announce that but any veteran coming into camp that plays well is generally favored, so Erik is definitely the front-runner. I have no reason to think otherwise.”
The Shock, who must trim the roster from 35 to 24 by March 3, open the 2012 Arena Football League season on March 12 when they host the Iowa Barnstomers.
Shock add Stipek
The Shock added center John Stipek to the roster on Wednesday and placed offensive lineman Isaiah Agson on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Stipek (6-foot-4, 320-pounds) is an AFL rookie and formerly played at Michigan State, converting from defensive lineman to the offensive line as a sophomore.