Kerry Meier’s story, filled with so many compelling turns, usually celebrates the team-first attitude he displayed after getting beaten out as the quarterback, his uncanny knack for getting open and a nod to his long stride that enables him to run so much faster than it appears he’s running.
Seldom does the story spend much time examining his hands. That’s understandable. They aren’t an issue. Throw the ball anywhere near him and he’ll catch it. No need to look at why he dropped a pass. He doesn’t drop passes.
His hands rank among the most important tools of Kansas University’s explosive offense, right up there with Todd Reesing’s evasiveness, Jake Sharp’s speed, Dezmon Briscoe’s sharp-cutting feet.
Meier does not follow the lead of many modern receivers and wear gloves for the same reason Angelina Jolie never will let a plastic surgeon make a patient out of her.
Why mess with perfection?
The easy answer to why an athlete has a particularly extraordinary skill is to say it came to him naturally. Certainly, nature plays a huge part in it. But nurture always plays a role.
Many, including Meier himself, have said playing quarterback for so long helped him with the mental aspect of excelling at receiver, recognizing defenses, finding open pockets, etc.
Playing quarterback also might have played at least a small part in developing his hands. After all, nobody plays catch with a football more often than quarterbacks.
“I definitely think so,” Meier said of that theory. “Not just in college, but throughout high school. Catching the ball and throwing it. Catching the ball and throwing it. I definitely think that’s all where it might have started. Just playing catch and receiving the ball as a quarterback, just getting ready to throw the ball. It might have originated there or it might have originated way back in the back yard playing with my brothers.”
Meier’s ability to apply lessons taught instantly also hasn’t hurt in developing such soft hands. Some drops can be traced to receivers letting the football crash off their pads. Meier doesn’t let it come to that. He catches the ball with his hands away from his body, looking like a Fred Biletnikoff football card in the process.
“It’s not something I think about a whole lot when I’m trying to catch the ball,” Meier said. “That’s one thing coach (David) Beaty and coach (Ed) Warinner emphasize. Don’t let it come into your shoulder pads. It’s what the majority of guys in the NFL do, catch it with their hands.”
Meier’s 87 receptions rank first on the team, his 932 yards and seven receiving touchdowns second to Dezmon Briscoe.
Former KU coach Don Fambrough said Meier reminds him of his one-time quarterback, Bobby Douglass, because, “both could play anyplace on the football field. Any position.”
As for just his hands, Fambrough had to think about that one before reaching back for a name.
“Emmett Edwards had soft hands like that,” Fambrough said. “Emmett Edwards could catch a pass and you would never hear it. It made no noise. That’s kind of the way I judge a receiver with good hands. The ones who catch a ball and you don’t hear it. They’ve got those soft hands.”