Commentary

Kansas quarterbacks form an effective combo on, off the field

Originally Published: January 2, 2008
By Heather Dinich | ESPN.com

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Last July, the competing quarterbacks at Kansas took a break from football and met in Austin, Texas, for a Widespread Panic concert -- music Todd Reesing and Kerry Meier say is a little offbeat from what the rest of their teammates listen to.

Their interest in jam bands drew Reesing and Meier together as friends first, when Reesing was still in high school and Meier was a redshirt freshman with the starting job all to himself.

[+] EnlargeKerry Meier
G. Newman Lowrance/Getty ImagesKerry Meier has embraced the transition from QB to receiver.

It just so happened that Reesing -- at least for now -- is the better quarterback, which is fine with both of them, because as it turned out, Meier is the better receiver.

The duo has run the gamut of a football relationship -- former roommates, competing quarterbacks and now an effective option on offense since Meier made the move to receiver on Saturdays. During the rest of the week? He's the No. 2 quarterback.

"He's not a quarterback going out there for a few plays," Reesing said. "He's the starting wide receiver when we use a four-receiver set. He runs every pass route. I don't think he's dropped a ball that was a catch in a game yet -- not to jinx him. … He's just as much a part of the offense at wide receiver as he is at quarterback now."

Meier, who made his debut as a receiver four weeks into the season against Florida International and started his first game at receiver against Kansas State, has since averaged 10.4 yards per catch, and totaled 250 yards and two touchdowns on 24 receptions. He has started five games as a receiver and will be another option there when No. 8 Kansas (11-1) faces No. 5 Virginia Tech (11-2) in the FedEx Orange Bowl on Jan. 3.

"When Todd won the quarterback position," Kansas coach Mark Mangino said, "I sat down with our offensive coordinator, Ed Warinner, and I said, 'Ed, we've got one of the most talented guys on the team who's going to be standing next to me every day and I'm not comfortable with that.'

"We're talking about a young man that's got good size, strength, power, speed, great hands, very intelligent," Mangino added. "It'd be a waste to just have him signaling plays all year. So we presented it to him and he was all for it."

[+] EnlargeTodd Reesing
G. Newman Lowrance/Getty ImagesOne of Todd Reesing's favorite targets is his friend, former roommate and backup quarterback.

In 2006, Meier took over the Kansas offense and started eight games. By the end of this past spring, he and Reesing had learned a new offense and were tied at the top of the depth chart. About two weeks into August, though, Reesing was making more plays, had a higher completion percentage and was named the Jayhawks' starter.

"Once I heard the news, it kind of caught me off guard, but that's the way the cards were dealt," said Meier, a native of Pittsburg, Kan., whose three brothers all played college football in the state. "I knew I had to move on and find success as a team. I pushed through it and I think I found a different way to get on the field. I'm enjoying what I'm doing."

Despite switching positions, Meier is still the Jayhawks' backup quarterback, and that's where he stays at practice and in meetings. Not once has he joined the receivers at practice or in their group meetings.

"He does that all naturally," Warinner said. "It's probably pretty amazing, to be honest with you, as good as he is at receiver not working any receiving drills."

Meier said he hasn't given up hope of earning the starting quarterback job back, but is willing to stay put if that's where the coaches want him.

"He'll always be in competition to be the quarterback, and if something happens to Todd, he would be the best quarterback to go into the game right now," Warinner said. "We want to keep him in that position because you never know what's going to happen.

"We'll just have to see what the future holds there, but our plans are to use him as an athlete, keep him ready as a second quarterback, and if he can catch up or pass Todd then we'll see what happens, but you never know. Right now Todd's playing so well that would be hard to do."

Heather Dinich is a college football writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Heather at espn.hd@hotmail.com.