Archive for Friday, October 19, 2007

Meier wears many hats, but one jersey, in practice

KU's Kerry Meier out-runs Baylor's Dwain Crawford on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2007 during the Jayhawks football game at Memorial Stadium.

KU's Kerry Meier out-runs Baylor's Dwain Crawford on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2007 during the Jayhawks football game at Memorial Stadium.

October 19, 2007

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Considering over 100 men work at a typical Kansas University football practice, it's really saying something that Kerry Meier still manages to stick out like a ripe tomato among them all.

Literally.

Though the sophomore often strays from his home position of quarterback to work with receivers and even as a punter, Meier keeps the red "don't touch me" jersey on, a color normally reserved for the quarterbacks.

It's one way the KU coaches try to keep their precious backup QB preserved. Otherwise, they're letting him loose this year.

To take advantage of Meier's size, athleticism and ability, the 15th-ranked Jayhawks are using the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Pittsburg native in rare fashion - as the backup quarterback to starter Todd Reesing, the backup punter to Kyle Tucker and the occasional wide receiver.

Such responsibilities - a mile wide and an inch deep - can overwhelm even the brightest of minds, Meier included.

"I have to bring a different mentality to the game," Meier said. "I have to switch thoughts and what I got to do and certain things. But I'm enjoying what I'm doing right now, and I hope to keep on doing it."

There's no reason to think he won't. Meier is the Jayhawks' ultimate utility player, and they're often the most underrated and more valuable members of any team.

Take his bloated line from KU's 58-10 victory over Baylor on Saturday: two receptions for 20 yards; three carries for 11 yards and a touchdown; 4-of-6 passing for 25 yards; and three punts for a 31.3-yard average.

Makes you tired just reading it.

"He's a well-conditioned athlete," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "He has a lot of tools. Kerry likes it. He's enjoying it. He did a little bit of everything Saturday. I think he enjoys it, and he helps us. He makes us better."

Meier never had played receiver before this year, but starting eight games as KU's starting quarterback in 2006 made him knowledgeable in the routes he's now asked to run.

"Each day I'm learning some new things about certain routes and how to get myself open," said Meier, who has five catches for 51 yards and no drops this season. "It's a daily process of learning."

Added Reesing: "He's a big guy and he's athletic, so if you throw it around his area, he's got a chance to get his hands on it. When he's running at you and you're a small (defensive back), you ain't going to get in there and try to pop him like a quarterback, because he doesn't look like a quarterback when he's out in the open field."

As for throwing and punting the ball? Those are two of Meier's old tricks. He's been a quarterback as long as he remembers, and he developed into a pretty good punter in high school after finding his knack for booting the ball while playing in the back yard with his three older brothers growing up.

"As a matter of fact, (assistant) coach (Clint) Bowen recruited me, and he knew that I punted a lot in high school," Meier said. "It was brought up during the recruiting process, and it kind of caught my eye - just having the chance to punt again."

Besides the occasional goofing around after a midweek practice, punting was put aside for a couple of years after Meier enrolled at KU. But when Reesing won the quarterback job in August, imaginations started to churn on what to do with Meier.

Suddenly, plays with both Meier and Reesing on the field started showing up. Then, punting plays with Meier and Reesing out there. Then a straight punt out of the end zone by Meier against Baylor with no apparent option for trickery.

The process continues in finding the right fit for Meier. Offensive coordinator Ed Warinner is in charge of getting Meier a suitable amount of work at all three positions in practice. All the while, Meier keeps the red jersey on because, ultimately, he remains most valuable as Reesing's backup at quarterback.

"Kerry's one of those guys, he just wants to play," Reesing said. "He's a competitor and he's a great athlete. He's going to do whatever he's got to do to help his team win.

"He never has a bad attitude. He's always positive, and he always works hard. He has the ability to make some plays for us. I think his role is going to expand as he continues to make plays.

Comments

marionlibrarian 7 years, 6 months ago

Kerry Meier is so cool! Gotta love a guy who can do it all!

jfcm77 7 years, 6 months ago

He and Todd Reesing make a super-power team!

nobody1793 7 years, 6 months ago

Let's just hope they both stay healthy. I like the gutsy strategy of putting them both in, but we run the risk of losing two QBs in a single snap.

Mandie Eutsler 7 years, 6 months ago

i think putting him in the game is a great idea. the offensive coordinator really knows what he's doing. putting the ball in the hands of the playmakers, and meier is definitely that. i'm just waiting to see meier catch a pass then throw a td to reesing. having a second qb gives us so much more flexibility and more threat to score. look out big 12, there is yet another powerhouse emerging.

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