MANHATTAN — Brandon Archer will remember Dylan Meier's carefree approach to life.
Jeff Snodgrass will never forget his positive outlook.
Thomas Hill is hard-pressed to think about anything other than his smile.
Those are the memories that three former Kansas State football players will cherish most of their friend Meier, 26, who died in a hiking accident Monday in Arkansas' Ozark National Forest.
Not only was he a quarterback to them on the football field, he was a treasured teammate in the locker room and looked up to for his cheerful nature.
"Everyone liked him," said Archer, a former K-State linebacker who graduated with Meier following the 2006 season. "There were very few times when I saw that guy get mad at anything. He was very laid back. No matter what was going on in his life, no matter what he did, you just got this vibe from him that everything was all right. Everything was cool."
Meier was part of a family hiking trip before his departure to South Korea. On Monday, he fell nearly 100 feet to his death while sightseeing on a popular trail.
According to Newton County (Ark.) Sheriff Keith Slape, Meier died instantly.
Tim Ernst, a nature photographer and writer who lives in the area, was the first to reach Meier after his fall. He said Meier was hiking along the top of a trail, parallel to a tall line of bluffs, and slipped on a smooth surface of rocks.
"He simply went over to the edge, where a large number of rocks and boulders sit and was standing there for the view," said Ernst, who did not see the accident. "It's level and it's not slick. It's a spot where a lot of people go through. It's not a dangerous trail or dangerous location, but he happened to fall."
Ernst said he helped officials transport Meier out of the park. Meier was joined on the trip by two of his brothers and his parents, Valerie and Dennis.
Ernst did not speak with them, but said "they were understandably quite shaken."
Funeral arrangements are pending.
A positive outlook
The Pittsburg native came to K-State as a highly touted quarterback recruit after leading Pittsburg High to back-to-back Class 5A championship games, but acted like any other freshman. He wore his blond hair long, rode a bike to practice and listened to the Grateful Dead.
Hill, a former tight end, compared him to an always-optimistic character from the football film "Remember the Titans."
"He was just like the quarterback from that movie...." Hill said. "A handsome young dude who is just carefree. He don't worry about the little stuff. Just go out and have fun. That's all that mattered to Dylan."
That attitude kept Meier active after leaving K-State. He briefly played professionally in Europe and traveled as much as he could. He planned to teach English in South Korea for a year.
"He's done all the things people only dream about," K-State coach Bill Snyder said. "So value his spirit and passion. He was a quite a young man."
When news spread of Meier's death, Snodgrass didn't know how to react.
"It's such a tragic loss," he said. "Dylan was just an all-around great guy. You hate to lose people like that."
Meier played at K-State from 2002 through 2006. He started 11 games and threw for 2,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was a member of the 2003 Big 12 Championship squad and in 2004 became the first Kansas native to start a season at quarterback for Snyder.
Things weren't always that easy for him, though. In 2005, he missed a season because of injury and as a senior lost the job to record-setting signal-caller Josh Freeman five games into the year. While that type of hard luck would bother many others, it didn't affect Meier.
When he didn't play early in his career, Hill remembers Meier helping him study game plans before big games. During his senior season, Snodgrass, a former kicker, remembers Meier teaching Freeman the intricacies of K-State's offense and volunteering to hold kicks.
"Even when things didn't go his way his senior year as a quarterback, he still found a way to be a major contributor to the team," Snodgrass said. "With everything that happened in that whole situation, only he could have handled it as well as he did. That's why no one on the team ever had anything bad to say about him."
Off the field, Meier was an academic All-Big 12 performer. He graduated from Kansas State with a degree in business finance. Archer said he had plans to meet Meier at Saturday's Purple/White spring game.
Meier will be honored prior to the game. K-State will show a video tribute and hold a moment of silence.
That will be an emotional time for Snyder.
"Dylan was an absolutely unbelievable young man in all the right ways," Snyder said. "He was a leader in our program and was mature well beyond his years. He possessed all the intrinsic values that make one successful and guided others in that same direction. His spirit and passion for life, adventure and for others will live on in the hearts and minds of all of us that he touched."