With 13 minutes and 21 seconds left in the first quarter against Northwestern State Saturday afternoon, three years into his career at Mississippi State, Gabe Myles did the one thing he’s been dreaming of since it all began: he crossed the goal line.
A redshirt sophomore now, the Starkville-native receiver saw his first action as a Bulldog last season. During that historic campaign, 11 different receivers and tight ends caught a pass, Myles included. 10 of them also scored a touchdown, Myles the only one who didn’t. For all the passes he caught in 2014 (22 of them, to be exact), not a single one of the 31 touchdowns throws MSU had went to him. Heck, even the quarterback caught a touchdown pass, Dak Prescott being on the receiving end of a throw from another member of the receiving corps. Funny, if cruel, irony.
Myles always seemed to come up just short. Until Saturday, when he caught that 49-yard strike for six points from Prescott.
“Everybody was really excited about that,” head coach Dan Mullen said. “I think he has the career record for being tackled on the one-yard line without scoring touchdowns.”
“They were making jokes about me not scoring,” Myles confirmed. “Mr. One-Yard Line.”
Recalling the moments before the touchdown, Myles broke down the approach, “I saw the defense and thought, ‘I’m going to be open. If the ball comes my way, I’ve just got to catch it and let my feet do the rest.’”
“I saw him catch it,” Mullen remembered after it turned out Myles was, indeed, open, easily beating single-coverage by a safety out of the slot deep down the middle of the field. “I’m like ‘Oh, boy, don’t trip, don’t trip. He’s going to fall here on the one or something.’”
Remarked Prescott, “He did stumble and I got a little nervous he was gonna fall.”
“Last week, we talked about getting me into the endzone,” Myles shared from his conversations with Prescott. “My thing is, when you give me the ball, I’m gonna make sure I catch it and get it in there.”
Myles continued, “It just feels good to finally cross that threshold.”
“It was exciting,” Prescott agreed. “He was down there a lot last year on the two-yard line. It was good to see him get into the endzone with no one close to him.”
“And then he scores twice!” Mullen exclaimed, reminding that the player they once referred to as Gabe-y Football also ran for a six-yard touchdown later in the game. “He had a receiving AND a rushing touchdown. How about that?”
“Everybody was so excited,” Mullen supplied, “because everybody jokes with him and kind of picks on him for not getting into the endzone.”
“It felt really good just to finally get in there and the jokes will stop,” Myles told the horde of reporters surrounding his table after the game.
“I’m just really happy,” Mullen gushed to the same group. “And you see, that’s the development of a young player. Here’s a guy that led his team to a state championship as a quarterback. Comes in as a defensive back. Moves to receiver. Learns the position. Plays a little bit last year. Gets some opportunities. He comes out and you just see his steady improvement of being a guy we can count on as a play-maker for us.”
“Congratulations,” Prescott simply said to him when the two met on the sidelines following the touchdown.
“It feels good,” Myles summed up.