🎙 The Jayhawker Podcast | Kerry Meier
Episode 30: Kerry Meier | August 6, 2020
Mark Mangino has referred to him as perhaps the “most important player” he ever had at Kansas. That’s high praise from the former KU coach who famously led the Jayhawks to their greatest season ever in 2007.
The selfless and team-first mentality that Meier displayed in humbly changing positions early in that season is a big reason why Mangino feels that way. All the records Meier would go on to shatter is another. And yet, Kerry Meier’s prolific career at wide receiver almost never happened. Twice.
This week on The Jayhawker Podcast we take you inside Meier’s transition from 4-star quarterback recruit to legendary Jayhawk receiver and all the highlights including two Bowl victories and a Sports Illustrated cover that came in between.
One of four college football-playing brothers from Pittsburg, Kansas – two of which played at Kansas State – Meier took a different path and committed to play for Mangino and the Jayhawks. But before he could even get on the field, a previously undetected heart condition forced Meier to redshirt as a freshman.
“At that point in time, Kansas was one of just a few institutions across the country that ran advanced cardiovascular screenings and tests to see what these incoming student-athletes are like,” recalled Meier. “If I wouldn’t have gone to Kansas, who knows if that ever would have been detected. So, in a way, going to the University of Kansas saved my life.”
After two heart procedures and a medical redshirt season, Meier would bounce back and claim the starting quarterback job the next fall, and go on to set a Kansas freshman record for touchdown passes.
But heading into the 2007 season, Todd Reesing beat Meier out for the starting job. It was the first time in Meier’s life that he’d ever finished second in a positional battle of any kind.
“Through high school, little league, middle school, I was always one of those guys – like a lot of people who play in college – you’re kind of that guy,” described Meier. “Things are easy, just based upon your athletic ability. You kind of get by.”
Meier had never been forced to take a backseat to anyone and the crushing news of losing the QB battle in fall camp had him turning to his three older brothers for advice.
“Those are three guys that I sought out consistently seeking advice,” said Meier. “How they faced adversity and obviously, having a lifetime of watching them face trials and tribulations, I knew the approach and that was to put your head down, go to work, continue to do the things that got you to that point but kind of tweak, modify and redefine who you are.”
The first redefinition came when offensive coordinator Ed Warinner approached Meier two weeks into the season about getting back onto the field at the receiver position.
“My expectations were always set high and I knew when I took on this new role and responsibility, I was like, ‘Alright how high can I set the bar and how far can I take this thing?’”, remembered Meier. “It was one of those deals where I never saw the end goal, I just knew that if I put the work in and did the things my coaches told me to do – because ultimately, I put my complete 100% trust in them – they would get me to where success would be.”
“Success” ended up being the greatest reception totals ever posted at Kansas and the winningest 2-year stretch the program had ever seen as well. Ultimately, it also vaulted Meier into a 5th round draft pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 2010.
And it was all made possible by humbly accepting a new role, putting the team first and throwing everything he had into being the best Jayhawk he could be. Hear the inspiring story of who Coach Mangino calls arguably his “most important player” this week on The Jayhawker.