LAWRENCE — Kansas wide receivers Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier will be playing their last game as the school's most prolific receiving tandem on Saturday. While they will always be paired together — in memories and in the KU record books — Briscoe and Meier will leave different legacies because of how they got there.
Both players have made it look very easy during the last two seasons. But while Meier's story is one of sacrifice, commitment and unselfishness, Briscoe's has been smattered with the ups and downs of a maturation process that has taken three seasons and is still ongoing.
Meier, of course, came to campus with the expectation of starting at quarterback for most of his career. He started and battled injuries during his redshirt freshman year and eventually lost the job to Todd Reesing. Meier immediately made the switch to wide receiver and is now 12 yards away from becoming KU's second all-time leader in receiving yards (2,267 would be second behind Briscoe, who leads with 2,998).
You may remember that Meier also made one of the biggest catches in KU history in last year's 40-37 Border War win over Missouri when he caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Todd Reesing in the final minute.
"He was one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the country, and he made a shift to receiver with not even a whimper," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "Not a word. Probably could have played quarterback somewhere and had a tremendous career. Could have thrown his hands up and said 'I'm transferring.' Instead, he's one of the most prolific receivers that has ever played here. That says something about his character."
Meier gave credit to his parents, who taught him about loyalty. When you make a commitment, you stick to it. This week, as Mangino has been under fire for his treatment of players, Meier has been his most vocal supporter among current players. Meier went out of his way to meet with Mangino last week and make sure he was doing OK.
"Kerry Meier is a very unique individual," Mangino said. "He possesses some traits that are very difficult to see in the average college student, and I mean that sincerely. His philosophy in life is to give more than to receive. He wants to be helpful; he doesn't want to be helped."
Briscoe, on the other hand, has struggled at times. He has been arrested for shoplifting at a Wal-Mart. He admitted last season that he played harder against big-name teams like Oklahoma than against lesser teams. He was suspended for spring ball last year because he did not attend some classes. Yet, he was such a gifted football player that he was still able to become an All-America candidate this season.
"Dez is kind of one of those success stories," Mangino said. "He came in here with a lot of talent but really had to learn how college football worked, how you work every day. He gets better and better. As a person, he's matured a lot."
Briscoe says he has looked up to Meier for the way he handles himself.
"You never heard anything negative about Kerry off the field," Briscoe said. "He goes to class, he never misses a workout, little stuff like that."
While Meier will most certainly have a good chance of being drafted in April's NFL draft as a wide receiver or tight end, Briscoe, a junior, still has a decision to make. He has not stated his intentions, but his mother, Shannon Greene, said earlier this season that his goal was to play in the NFL next season.
No matter what decision he makes, Mangino thinks Briscoe will be more ready because of being around Meier.
"It's been a great relationship," Mangino said. "He's learned to focus like Kerry, he's learned it doesn't take a whole lot of energy to do things the right way. He's watched Kerry do it the right way. I think they've been good for each other."