Beaten Out At QB, Meier's Adjustment Creates Good Will Among Kansas Teammates

Meier threw 13 touchdown passes as a part-time starter in 2006

Dec. 31, 2007

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - With his flowing blond locks and youthful good looks, Kerry Meier might seem more like a Florida beachcomber than a Kansas quarterback.

In a few dark, reflective moments last August, he may even have thought about dropping out of school and finding some faraway beach to explore.

Instead, he stayed in college and stuck with football. Although he threw only 29 passes in this greatest season in Kansas history, the unselfish example he set for admiring teammates may have made him as valuable as anyone else the Jayhawks (11-1) will suit up in the Orange Bowl on Thursday night against Virginia Tech (11-2).

"That was probably one of the most amazing things about this season," offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said. "It's probably why we're here."

A native of Pittsburg, Kan., and the youngest of four football-playing brothers who made reputations for themselves all over the state, Meier threw 13 touchdown passes as a part-time starter in 2006 and came into this season with everyone, including himself, figuring the job belonged to him.

But it quickly became apparent in August drills that Todd Reesing, his undersized understudy from Texas, possessed a spark and skills that hadn't been seen at Kansas since David Jaynes was breaking passing records in the mid-1970s.

It was a tough day when coaches delivered the bad news.

"At the time, it kind of hit me. Wow," Meier said. "But I woke up. I used that as a little motivation to find a new way to the field."

That didn't take long.

"I realized that standing next to me during the game was one of the most talented athletes on our entire squad," said head coach Mark Mangino. "I said, `This kid is way too talented to be standing here next to me. Let's find a way to get him on the field."'

Since then, Meier has turned into one of college football's most unique weapons, a guy who does just about everything but prepare weekly scouting reports.



As a wide receiver, the 6-3, 220-pounder has caught 24 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns.

As a backup quarterback, he's proven even more accurate than he was as a starter, hitting 25 of 29 for 275 yards and three TDs. He's also rushed 15 times for 78 yards and another score, becoming one of the few college players this season to score a touchdown as a passer, receiver and rusher.

He's even punted a few times.

"He's as good an athlete as we have on the offensive side of the ball in terms of athleticism, speed, strength, coordination, hands, understanding the game," said Warinner. "There's not much he can't do."

He'll be someone the Hokies will have to keep an eye on at all times. Whenever he gets his hands on the ball, he's always a threat to run or pass.

Reesing got all the glory and rewrote all the records and is, without question, the Jayhawks' most valuable player. But coaches point to Meier as a big reason for the cohesive team-first attitude that became imbedded in the entire squad as the Jayhawks ran off a school-record 11 straight wins.

"That selfless attitude permeated throughout our team," said Warinner. "He worked hard. Never pouted. Never did anything but just come to work. When everybody on the team sees somebody like that put the team first ... it's one of the biggest factors in helping us get here."

As things turned out, being a quarterback was a big help in Meier's conversion to receiver.

"I think it's been very beneficial," he said. "I have a feel for where I want guys to be and where I should be. Todd and I see eye-to-eye. He knows where he wants the receiver to be in this position or that position and I have the same feeling. Plus, my oldest brother was a tight end and he's given me a lot of tips on catching the ball."

When he learned he would not be the starting quarterback, any thoughts of transferring to another school were quickly dismissed.

"There's a lot more to life than just football," he said. "I really enjoy the city of Lawrence. That's where my education is. Going to school at KU is great. I've developed great relationships with the players and coaches.

"Sometimes the cards aren't dealt the way you want them to be dealt. But it's how you adjust and adapt that's important."