Gwynn anchors Matador defense
Seven NCAA Division I football programs already are looking at Myrick Gwynn.
Arizona Western coach Tom Minnick said that can be just the start for the strong safety.
“He’s a good football player,” Minnick said. “He’s the type of guy that down the road, if everything goes his way, he’d have a shot at the NFL.”
The redshirt sophomore is the anchor of the Matador secondary, which Minnick said was not only a strong point of his team but one of the best defensive backfields he’s had as a head coach.
“He likes to hit you,” Minnick said. “As a safety, especially in this league, players who can play like him – he can hit you, he can run, he can flip his hips and play you man – it’s a blessing to have someone like that.”
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Gwynn and the secondary. Entering the season with national title aspirations to start the year, the Matadors (2-1 overall and Western States Football League) lost 45-31 in its second game of the year at Scottsdale.
The Matadors were outscored 28-6 in the fourth quarter and ended up giving up 306 yards to the hurry-up Artichoke offense, which pulled a second stunner last week and beat Snow, which had started the year ranked No. 2.
“We just learned you have to keep going. You can start out good and end bad,” Gwynn said. “You can’t come with an A-plus first half and a D-plus second half. You just have to maintain the lead, keep strong and keep coming.”
Gwynn is second on the team with 21 tackles, trailing only reigning WSFL Defensive Player of the Week Antonio Kinard. Gwynn is also second in the league in pass breakups, plus has a pair of sacks.
He’s drawn the attention of Utah, Utah State, Arizona, Arizona State, Oklahoma State, Ohio and Oklahoma State.
He said he’s focused on making sure he graduates on time so he can continue his football career at the next level.
“It’s a big step for me,” said Gwynn, who hails from Largo, Fla. “It’s a process for me I didn’t experience in high school – I did, but I didn’t have the grades. But it isn’t like it is now. I’m going to do what I have to do to get to the next level.”
The Matadors are preparing to face Phoenix College (0-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Bears have been the cellar dwellers of the league for the past few season.
Gwynn said the team isn’t going to lose focus again like it did in Scottsdale.
“We got it down pat. We learned our lesson,” Gwynn said. “That loss hurt us bad. We were thinking about the whole week. We can’t get that feeling any more. We’re focused now and we know what we have to do.”
It wasn’t just the Scottsdale letdown – the defense allowed an 88-yard touchdown pass in the closing minutes of its 42-15 rout of Pima on Saturday. Minnick said itw as one of the freshman backups “doing his own thing” that cost the Matadors the eight points.
But thanks to the foursome of Gwynn, Dominique Blackmon, Jonas Clark and Kevin Buford, Minnick still thinks plays like that and the fourth quarter against the Artichokes are aberrations.
“Have we been making mistakes and stuff back there? Yeah,” Minnick said. “But there are four sophomore kids back there and I think it’s one of the better secondaries we’ve had since I got here.”
And Gwynn said he agrees wholeheartedly.
“They’re some good veterans coming from DI, coming from last year’s unit,” Gwynn said. “But we’re pretty young. As the young guys watch the first unit, they’re coming on pretty strong.”