MSU's Myles leaves struggles in the past
It’s hard not to feel good when you’re around Gabe Myles.
The Mississippi State wide receiver and former Starkville High Yellowjacket seemingly always has a smile on his face and a bounce in his step.
“I love Gabe,” fellow MSU wide receiver Donald Gray said. “Gabe is just another reason why I push myself a lot. You have to match what he brings with the spirit he brings and attitude he has. Being negative isn’t in Gabe’s attitude. If he’s not singing, you know he’s having a bad day. Every day though, he comes out singing and he provides that comfort.”
What happens though when the uplifter needs uplifting?
That was the case for Myles last fall. After freshman and sophomore seasons where Myles played a key role in MSU’s offense, an early-season game against South Carolina in 2016 wrecked Myles’ confidence. Myles can still remember the moments vividly.
“There was a drop against South Carolina when we were in the 2-minute drill,” Myles said. “I had a dig. The ball was coming and it was thrown perfectly by (MSU quarterback Nick Fitzgerald). I’m looking it in thinking, ‘This is me. I’m catching this and going to get on upfield,’ then I dropped it. I was like, ‘I’m messing up,' then I dropped another one later in the game. The play didn’t count, but it was a wide-open go ball, and I bobbled it.
“After those two drops, it was like, ‘You’ve got to be able to make those plays.’”
There were 10 games and a bowl contest played by MSU following the matchup against South Carolina. Though Myles didn’t miss a single game, he says he wasn’t the same the rest of the year.
He ended the season with only eight total catches for 63 yards. Both were single-season career lows. Myles also never got in the end zone.
The drops continued throughout the year and Myles said it was to a point where it had zapped his fun as the negative thoughts got deeper and deeper into his head.
“Your job is to catch the ball,” Myles said. “When you’re not catching it, it’s like, ‘What the heck is going on? I can catch them in practice. I caught them all during training camp, then I get to the game and what is going on?’”
With difficulties mounting, Myles went to work to regain his confidence. He said he started to overthink things.
“Catching isn’t a skill,” Myles said. “Catching is all about concentration. If you’ve got all kinds of things going through your head while you try to catch a ball, it’s harder than what it seems like. You should think, ‘See ball and catch ball.’ Instead, I was thinking, ‘Someone is coming. Do I need to turn my hands a certain way?’ It should have just been about see the ball and catch the ball.”
Myles is now about three full months removed from his tough junior season. He’s a few spring practices into things as he gears up for his senior year playing for his hometown college.
Myles says he’s finally over the confidence issues that plagued him last season. It took some time, but the happy, jolly Myles is back smiling, dancing and enjoying himself on the gridiron.
“My whole thing is just about having fun,” Myles said. “If I’m having fun, I’m not worried about anything else. Everything will come natural then. I’m not worried about the negatives. Now, it’s see the ball and catch the ball again. It’s my opportunity to go make a play.”
As for all those struggles, Myles isn’t ready to completely let them go. Myles continues to be an eternal optimist that can find the sunshine on the cloudiest of days, so even though last year was unquestionably the toughest of his MSU career, Myles believes it all happened for a reason.
“That adversity is going to make me stronger,” Myles said. “I’ve got to be a testimony to somebody. If I didn’t go through that, how could I help somebody else? So I’m good with that.”