'Be smooth': Marshall Meeder comes up clutch in Chippewas' homecoming win


Eaton Rapids kicker Marshal Meeder kicks for a field goal during the Chippewas game against Florida International University Sept. 25 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. 

Calm and collected, Marshall Meeder smiled into a webcam with his long, curly, brown mullet flowing out of a maroon headband. The mullet was born over quarantine, during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Meeder needed a hair cut and his uncle took care of him. 

His uncle cut him a mullet and it's stuck ever since.

Central Michigan's mullet-rocking kicker approached the postgame media session the same way he approached his biggest kick of the season so far, a 38-yard attempt from just inside the left hash mark facing the Chippewa Champions Center. 

"Honestly, the best thing is to not think about it," Meeder said. "When you think about it, that's when you make mistakes. Just treat it like any other kick."

This 38-yarder was, in fact, like every other kick Meeder attempted Saturday against Toledo in that it had the same result. The Eaton Rapids native drilled it, giving CMU a 26-23 lead in the first half of the overtime period. 

The Chippewa (4-3, 2-1 Mid-American Conference) defense held strong, and a missed 50-yarder by Toledo (3-4, 1-2) kicker Thomas Cluckey sealed an overtime win for Meeder and company. 

Meeder estimates that he, holder Luke Elzinga and long snapper Franklin Lama get 12 live field goal reps during a normal week of practice. Staying in rhythm is important during these limited live reps becomes paramount in games like Saturday, where he number was called four times. 

In the win, Meeder made field goals from 46, 51 and 44 yards out in addition to the game-winner. The last makes seven straight connections for the young kicker, who had gone through struggles in the weeks leading up to the Chippewas' last two games. 

As a true freshman in 2020, Meeder was a perfect eight-for-eight and a first-team All-MAC selection. He missed for the first time in his career in week two of 2021, starting a string of four games in which he was just three-for-eight on field goal attempts. 

"I think ever since I missed the first one, I just got in my head," Meeder said. "And then, the next couple ones I was like, 'Dang, what if I miss this one?'"

Despite the difficulties, coach Jim McElwain remained confident in the young kicker. This confidence was rewarded in week six against Ohio, when Meeder went three-for-three with a long of 40. 

"Not only me, it's our football team," McElwain said. "Our football team believes in the mullet. When he's out there, they feel like it's gonna go in every time. I was happy to see him rebound, he really struck the ball well. There wasn't a doubt on any of them." 

Meeder rode the momentum of his team's win over the Bobcats with his performance against Toledo, striking the ball well and coming through in the clutch. His secret? Being smooth.

"After the (Miami) game where I missed two, I got with coach (Keith Murphy)," Meeder said. "Coach Murph's thing was just being smooth. So, I go out there and it's being smooth and doing my thing that they know I can do and I know I can do."