By Trevor Wenners
Athletic Communications Assistant
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Eric Meyreles does not shy away from the big moment.
The Wesleyan University football team was trailing 17-3 with under 11 minutes left against Tufts on Sept. 23, and then the senior wide receiver compiled a pair of fourth-quarter TD receptions from junior quarterback Mark Piccirillo, including a 24-yard connection, which evened the score at 17-17 with six seconds remaining in regulation during a Cardinals' 24-17 overtime victory.
"The Tufts' game was an exciting game all the way down to the final whistle," Meyreles said. "As time becomes a factor, we know as an offense the most important aspects of executing a successful 2-minute drill is staying poised, getting first downs and getting the ball out of bounds. Before Mark snapped the ball on the last play, he signaled a hot route to me on the backside of the formation, so I knew the ball would be coming my way, and when it did, I stayed focused and followed the ball to the corner of the end zone."
Meyreles, who hails from Yorktown Heights, N.Y., has showed consistency throughout his career with the Cardinals, compiling 1,651 all-purpose yards, featuring 870 yards on kickoff returns, 707 yards receiving, 43 yards rushing and 31 yards on punt returns.
The captain's ability to affect the game in many different ways, both on offense and special teams, has been a key component to the rejuvenation of the program over the last few years. Wesleyan defeated NESCAC Conference-rival Bowdoin, 21-10, on Saturday, Oct. 28, securing the program's sixth straight winning season. During Meyreles's tenure, the Cardinals have compiled a 23-8 record.
"I am extremely proud to have been a part of this program, and the progress that we have made throughout my four years here," he said. "To have a positive impact on the culture of this program, and witness the benefits of our hard work on the back end has been an extremely rewarding experience."
Meyreles does not see the positive momentum ending anytime soon.
"I believe Wesleyan will continue to be a top contender for the league every year," he said. "I am excited to see the continued success of this program in the future."
During his senior year, Meyreles has tallied 197 yards on 17 receptions, to go along with six kickoff returns for 140 yards, as the Cardinals currently boast a 5-2 record and a perfect 3-0 mark at Corwin Stadium in Middletown, Conn.
Wesleyan will host Williams (5-2) at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, during Homecoming/Family Weekend. The game will carry significance meaning for Meyreles, as it will be his final time suiting up in front of the home crowd.
Last season, during Homecoming action against Amherst, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound athlete started up the second half by flying 54 yards down field on the opening kickoff, bringing the hosts to the Mammoths' 35-yard line during a 20-0 triumph. The win was the first time the Cardinals defeated Amherst since the 2013 campaign.
"A Wesleyan game day is one of the most exciting and electric atmospheres to be a part of as a player and a fan," Meyreles said. "Playing in the center of campus is one of the coolest experiences I have ever had as an athlete. We always get a great showing from the student body, alumni and the Middletown community, so being able to come out and perform at our best is something we always take pride in."
Looking back to the past is always beneficial in terms of self-reflection, and Meyreles has absolutely no regrets about his decision to enroll at Wesleyan.
"What brought me to Wesleyan and what has always kept me here is the people," he said. "I have created lasting friendships, and built so many relationships with some of the most intelligent and genuine people I have ever met. Some of my favorite memories outside athletics come from Spring Fling, afternoons hanging out on Foss Hill, and having dinner with an educational rapper and one of the top climate scientists in the world."
Meyreles assumed a crucial role on the team as a sophomore in 2015, grabbing 21 receptions for 309 yards and a pair of TDs, to go along with 18 kickoff returns for 376 yards. He posted a 42-yard kickoff return in the third quarter during a 20-14 win at Bowdoin, and opened up the scoring with a 21-yard TD reception from Piccirillo during a 27-7 victory against visiting Williams.
As a junior, Meyreles registered 201 yards receiving on 21 receptions, along with 354 yards on 12 kickoff returns, as he averaged 29.5 yards per return during a 6-2 season for the Cardinals.
After a storied football career, spanning 15 years, it now all comes down to two more games for Meyreles, who is cherishing all the remaining time he has left on the gridiron. The squad will close out the 2017 season at Trinity (Conn.) on Saturday, Nov. 11, at noon.
"After 15 years playing this game, my mindset heading into the last few games is to stay poised for big games, and enjoy every second I have left on the football field," he said. "With so much at stake every Saturday, it becomes very easy to forget about the little details that make us successful. I find it best to take it one day, one practice, one rep at a time, so as not to forget the little things that make me as a receiver and us as a football team successful."
Book: Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim S. Grover
Movie: Super Troopers
Professor: Gary Yohe
Music: Hip-Hop / R&B
Band/Artist: J. Cole
Pro Athlete: Kyrie Irving
Started Playing Football: Third Grade
Best Kept Secret: I used to be a male model