Fort Hays State quarterback Jacob Mezera recently stumbled across some footage from his redshirt year and couldn’t help but be amused.

“I was like, ‘My gosh, that was me back then? That’s crazy,’ ” Mezera said. “It’s just really cool with the coaching how much better I’ve gotten over the years.”

Good enough, in fact, to have a legitimate shot at breaking every significant passing record in program history entering his senior year for the defending MIAA champs.

“Coming out of high school, I didn’t know anything,” Mezera said. “We ran like a wing T. I didn’t know anything about a defense or anything like that.

“I’ve changed a lot since I’ve been here and it’s been for the better. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Mezera, who completed 65.7 percent of his passes and threw for 2,824 yards with 23 touchdowns and just six interceptions last season, said assuming his leadership role has come naturally.

“It comes with the position obviously, but you start from the ground up,” said Mezera, a three-year starter for the Tigers. “My freshman year I was trying to get along with everybody. You become friends with everyone and get to know them. From there, you just start throwing with them and telling them want you want from them and what they need.”

When asked during Monday’s FHSU press conference who he tried to emulate growing up, Mezera pointed to a fellow Jacksonville, Fla., native.

“Big Tim Tebow fan growing up,” Mezera said. “I loved the way he approached everything. He was super intense on the field and just a great guy off the field and everything. He’s just a really easy person to look up to.”

And Mezera is becoming an easy person to look up to among his Tiger teammates.

“Jacob’s leadership is phenomenal,” Tiger junior receiver Layne Bieberle said. “Having him out here his senior year, he’s good to have as our quarterback right now. He’s the top dog. I’m very thankful to have him, that’s for sure.”

With another solid year, Mezera can attain the Tigers’ passing records for yards, completions, touchdowns and completion percentage.

He enters the season with 5,377 career yards through the air, needing just 1,637 to reach Mike Garrison’s record of 7,014.

He’s just 85 away Garrison’s completion record of 540 and is currently the Tigers’ record holder for completion percentage with a 64.3 mark (455 of 707)

Mezera is also well within reach of Treveon Albert’s program record of 55 career touchdown passes. He has 42 career TDs entering the season.

Like all of FHSU’s seniors, Mezera said he’s trying to soak up every aspect of his last season, which begins at 7 p.m. on Thursday against Central Missouri at Lewis Field Stadium.

“I love going to practice,” Mezera said. “That’s probably my favorite part of the day. I love going to practice and being with the guys. I know when this is over, that’s the thing I’m going to miss the most. But now I’m (focused) on Game 1. Let’s go get the job done and have some fun with it.”