Richard Sherman. Alex Carter. Jordan Richards. Stanford has had a handful of lockdown defensive backs in recent years. In 2014, Stanford’s secondary was outstanding and finished first in the PAC 12 in pass defense. The next year, Stanford secondary unit saw many experienced veterans leave, and incoming freshman had to step up. Stanford’s inexperienced secondary struggled many times throughout the season, but many young players showed great potential. One of the many freshman, Quenton Meeks proved himself by playing well and helped Stanford reach the Rose Bowl. Meeks will be a key piece if Stanford’s secondary hopes to bounce back in 2016.
Quenton Meeks established himself as a corner after finishing the year with a team-high three interceptions and with thirty four tackles, but above all stats, Quenton Meeks became a hero for Stanford fans with Stanford’s Rose Bowl hopes at stake. Washington State was leading with less than four minutes to go and hoping to score again, but Quenton Meeks got in their way as the Cougars were driving down field. Meeks read a screen pass perfectly and jumped in front of the receiver for his second interception of the night. Meeks saved the game and Stanford’s Rose Bowl hopes with his two critical interceptions.
Meeks’ most memorable interception, however, was not the one that helped get Stanford to the Rose Bowl but the one in the Rose Bowl. Meeks said of the Rose Bowl:
"It was my mother’s first game out to see me play since my Junior Year in high school so I wanted to play special for her. In that game my junior year, I got my first ever pick 6. The Rose Bowl was my second ever pick 6. Also my grandmother that lived with me my whole life before she passed away was named Rose. So I wanted to honor her with the game as well. And the obvious reason because it was the Rose Bowl, the granddaddy of them all!"
As a true freshman, Quenton Meeks stepped on the field unknown, but by the end of the season, he became a vital piece for Stanford’s defense.
I'm going to start a foundation one day that makes college affordable for kids who's parents can't afford it for them☝ ️— Quenton Meeks (@ShowtimeQM) June 1, 2016
Meeks has shown talent on the field, but off the field he lives life to the fullest. Meeks loves his friends, family, and people in general, so he is leaning towards majoring in sociology. Meeks wants to help the world and make a difference with his Stanford education. He said,
"My goal is to one day start a non-profit organization to put young people, like me, into college if they can’t afford it."
Quenton Meeks is an athlete who realizes there is more to life than just football. He loves education, and despite challenges at Stanford, Meeks succeeds in the classroom. Without a redshirt year to adjust, Meeks was pushed in the classroom and had to balance school and football, which was "extremely difficult."With his goals for a non-profit organization and his success in the classroom, Meeks is not afraid of adversity and challenges himself on and off the field everyday.
At the beginning of this offseason, Quenton saw other corners flourishing while he was struggling. Stanford’s defensive backs coach, Duane Akina, pushed Meeks to get better. Meeks worked on getting out of breaks when covering and had a much better second half of the spring. After improving this spring, Meeks is confident Stanford’s pass defense will be a threat again.
The PAC-12 Championship and Rose Bowl were the secondary’s best games, and their momentum carried over into spring practices. The young group has improved tremendously from last season after gaining valuable playing experience, and they hope to continue that trend heading into the season. Specifically, Alijah Holder was a consistent contributor on defense last year and will be a leader on defense this year.
Zach Hoffpauir has also returned to Stanford and gives the young group more experience. Zach is knowledgeable and will definitely be a major role in Stanford’s defense. Meanwhile, Meeks is confident in himself heading into next year. Meeks said,
"I feel like I can accomplish anything on the field, and it all comes from trusting my coaching and preparation."
Holder, Hoffpauir, and Meeks should form a dynamic trio next year that makes the secondary one of the best again. However, Stanford’s secondary goes beyond Holder, Hoffpauir, and Meeks. After a great spring, Terrence Alexander is one the most improved players heading into the season. Justin Reid played a lot of safety as a true freshman, and according to Meeks, "he is simply a beast."Ben Edwards got playing time and made some unbelievable, powerful tackles, and Meeks is glad that he’s "not the one on the other end."Frank Buncom IV, Brandon Simmons, Alameen Murphy, and Denzel Franklin are all possible options for Stanford’s secondary as well. Quenton Meeks credits Coach Akina for so many great young players. He describes,
"Coach Akina is the best DB coach in the nation, and it’s obvious when you see so many good players at one school."
Next year, look for Stanford’s secondary to surprise people and become the PAC-12’s best. Stanford’s depth is insane, and they have a solid core of Holder, Hoffpauir, and Meeks. Hoffpauir was an important member from 2014, and hopefully, his experiences from 2014 pass over to 2016. Holder and Meeks are both young, but they have improved a lot from last season. If injuries hit Stanford, the team has great depth to back it up. Stanford’s secondary should be able to lockdown any receiver who comes their way in 2016.
Quenton Meeks hopes to follow the footsteps of recent corners; Richard Sherman, Alex Carter and Jordan Richards. Richard Sherman has made his name known in the NFL despite being drafted in the fifth round. Meanwhile, Alex Carter and Jordan Richards are still trying solidify themselves in the NFL.
Meeks, who is listed at 6’2", is considered a tall cornerback like Sherman. Meeks hopes to make the NFL one day like past Stanford corners and be a first round pick. He also wants to be on the 1st Team All-American, All PAC-12, and All PAC-12 Academic. Going forward into the next years, Meeks wants to become one of the nation’s best cornerback and compete to win the Jim Thorpe Award, which is awarded to the nation’s best corner. Lastly, Meeks and the Stanford team want to win the national title this year. Meeks’ logic behind his goals:
"I set my goals very high, so it forces me to work extremely hard to achieve them."
After a successful freshman year, Quenton Meeks could be Stanford’s next, great cornerback.