Tyler Meteer played in one of California’s best football programs at Del Oro High School.
During his three-year varsity career with the Golden Eagles, the linebacker-tight end was a member of two Sac-Joaquin Section championship teams and twice played in CIF state bowl games.
As a senior, he had 126 tackles – 20 against Grant – and caught 71 passes for 930 yards and nine touchdowns. He was The Bee’s co-Defensive Player of the Year with teammate Tanner Woods.
But Meteer was like a lot of players who come out of coach Casey Taylor’s highly respected program in Loomis: A shade too slow and/or a little undersized for a Football Bowl Subdivision school.
“We’re not a bunch of great athletes, but we’re going to be fundamentally sound,” Meteer said. “The work ethic – out-grinding people – that’s what always was emphasized the most.”
Meteer is now a junior linebacker at Sacramento State, which has never been to the postseason at Division I and is 0-4 this season – 0-1 in the Big Sky Conference – entering Saturday night’s home game against Montana State (2-2, 0-1).
So it’s only natural to ask Meteer if he ever sees the struggling Sac State program one day being a Football Championship Subdivision version of Del Oro. He thinks it’s possible.
“The biggest thing with us is the need to be more consistent,” Meteer said. “One play we’ll be great, then the next play someone doesn’t do their job, and it’s going to hurt. We’ve got the big things down; now it’s just about doing the little things right.”
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Meteer is trying to do his part. He came into entered the season as the backup to sophomore standout Manoah Pearson at middle linebacker.
So Meteer only saw action on special teams in the Hornets’ crushing 38-30 season-opening loss at home to Division II Western Oregon, which Montana State beat 55-0. But because of inconsistency by two underclassman linebackers, Meteer moved into a starting role at Fresno State, where he had 13 tackles, including three for losses, in the Hornets’ 31-3 defeat to the FBS Bulldogs.
He has followed that with 11 tackles and a sack in a 14-7 loss at Weber State and eight tackles last Saturday in a 42-34 loss at Idaho State.
“He’s got a knack for finding the football,” said Sac State coach Jody Sears. “He’s been playing since his freshman year, so he’s very savvy, very knowledgeable. He’s real steady for us, a hard worker and a man of few words, but his play speaks volumes.”
Senior strong safety Nick Crouch said Meteer is reliable.
“He brings a lot of consistency, a lot of awareness with our defense” Crouch said. “Tyler knows his job every single play. He’s also a great teammate. He’s always picking guys up. He’s just an all-around good guy.”
As a freshman, Meteer backed up Sac State middle linebacker star Darnell Sankey, now a member of the Raiders’ practice squad. Meteer said Sankey was a great role model.
“I learned a lot from his work ethic,” Meteer said. “He was one of the hardest-working guys out here. He’d always be doing extra conditioning after practice. He was a good example to watch as far as how he played and the intensity he played with.”
When Sankey was ejected for targeting during a game against Idaho State in 2014, Meteer replaced him and had a career-high 16 tackles.
Meteer started last season playing side by side with Sankey in the Hornets’ 4-2-5 formation. But midway through the year, Pearson dethroned Meteer as the starter. Still, Meteer had an impact on special teams. He returned a blocked punt 47 yards for a touchdown in Sac State’s 35-21 loss to UC Davis in the Causeway Classic.
“Garrett Steele got the perfect block, and the ball bounced right into my hands,” Meteer said. “I saw a clear gap in front of me. It was just real exciting to be able to celebrate that with my teammates.”
Sears said landing more local players like Meteer will be a key to Sac State’s future. Eight former area high school players are in Sac State’s two-deep, but Sears needs more.
“It’s awesome to have local kids, especially from good programs like Del Oro,” Sears said. “That’s how you grow this program, and that’s how you are going to win championships.”