There is belief among college football coaches that having a strong and dependable offensive line will help determine a team’s success each fall more than any other position on the field. If that is truly the case, then the Ole Miss Rebels and coach Houston Nutt look to have made the line’s future that much stronger with the verbal commitment of Indiana native Jake Meador.
The 6-foot-8, 305-pound native of Whiteland, located 20 minutes southwest of Indianapolis, is one of the higher rated tackle prospects in the nation for the 2012 signing class.
He verbally committed to sign for the Rebels on National Signing Day and his size and strength, coupled with his raw athleticism, seem to point to him becoming a solid, if not spectacular, player in time.
Whiteland head coach Darrin Fisher believes the Rebels just landed an offensive lineman who can deliver on the front, both as a tackle or guard, and be a player that Ole Miss offensive line coach Mike Markuson will enjoy coaching in the future as much as he does now.
“Jake is a six-second player. He is a guy that plays whistle to whistle, a player who has a great motor and knows how to finish,” Fisher said. “Jake has been a great player for us. We think highly of Jake and his family. He has great bend for a guy his size. He’s the center on the basketball team and his uses his leverage well.”
Fisher said that Meador, who chose the Rebels over offers from the likes of Louisville, Indiana and Kentucky, has the kind of flexibility to play guard and get in on smaller defenders despite his size.
“We’re a running football team. We run the fly offense. We like to get the ball on the outside, run play action and sprint out and Jake does a great job with our combo blocks, inside trap and the things we like to do on offense,” Fisher said. “He’s always been a big guy. He was 6-4, 260 pounds as a sophomore and played defensive tackle, which he outgrew. We moved him to offense as a junior he’s done a great job for us ever since.”
Meador has visited Oxford two times this summer and after making the first trip with his mother, he brought back his entire family to check things out. Fisher said he and his family investigated everything about Ole Miss and were very diligent in researching what the program had to offer.
“I went down to Ole Miss just me and my mom and I really enjoyed it. I wanted to get a second look so I went with my entire family. I have two brothers that play college ball. They came and so did my dad. I went down and really enjoyed it and talked to the coaches more and I went and visited my other schools and I liked Ole Miss number one so that’s where I decided to go,” Meador said about his most recent trip. “Every school had something different about each other. I come from a small town in Indiana and Oxford, I felt like I could live there year round.”
While feeling comfortable with the atmosphere was a big determining factor for Meador, so was his relationship with Markuson. Fisher said he has yet to meet Markuson in person, but he got a good feel about his coaching ability during a phone conversation.
“I think it will be a great fit for Jake. I think Coach Markuson feels like he can play, like he can fit his system. Some schools look for a certain body type to play a certain position and I think Coach Markuson likes Jake’s ability to play as an athlete and fit in where he is needed,” Fisher said. “The relationship with Coach Markuson was big for Jake and I think he feels comfortable with that.”
Markuson has told Meador that he wants him to come in and play tackle, either side, and he added that the relationship he has already started to build was key.
“He seems real genuine, someone who reminds me of my high school offensive line coach,” Meador said of Markuson. “I can be coached by him and fall into his gameplan, his style. The way he just puts players in the NFL really attracted me also.
Some high school linemen are often good at just one particular aspect of blocking heading into their freshmen season, but Meador felt like he could handle both and perform well in both situations.
“You got to do both blocks. I feel like I’ve done pretty well on both blocks, mastered both blocks, so I feel comfortable doing either,” Meador said. “I try to work on getting my first step down in the box and try to make contact with a defender before he can make a move on me and controlling the block.”
The decision to commit early, before the season, was also important for Meador, who added he will not take any other official visits during the season.
“I’m committed to Ole Miss. It’s the place I want to be and that’s final,” Meador said. “Everything gets pretty hectic when Sept. 1 hits and I think we’ll have a pretty good high school team this year. Ole Miss felt right to me so I decided to make the decision early and make it easier on myself during the season.”
Meador is considered a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, while Scout.com has Meador listed as a three-star recruit. He is considered one of the top five prospects in the state of Indiana for the 2012 class.
Meador becomes the seventh verbal commitment for the Rebels for the 2012 class and the second offensive lineman, joining Memphis (University) guard Ben Still (6-3, 280) in that category. (June 28, 2011, Page 6)