Upon perusing the attendees at Stanford's Junior Day two weeks ago, one visitor to the Cardinal campus stuck out. Traveling all the way from Greenwich (Conn.) was linebacker/fullback Jonathan Meyers. The 6'1" 220-pound student-athlete trekked across the country for good reason.
"When I look for a school, it's the best in football and obviously the best in academics," Meyers explains. "Stanford covers the academic end pretty well, and they're the only school with such high caliber academics who can really give you a good D-I football experience. I was really interested to see that. I had heard a bunch of things about the campus being really nice, but when I saw it for myself, I was just really impressed by the entire thing. The atmosphere at that place is just awesome, especially being in Palo Alto and surrounded by so many important companies. Just getting on campus and seeing the football guys was a really cool experience."
While a number of the in-state recruits on hand at Junior Day were familiar with The Farm, either through previous visits or through family and friends who have seen Stanford, Meyers and his parents were getting their first look at the campus.
"I wasn't expecting how big it was, but I had heard a bunch of good things about it. I had never heard anything bad about Stanford," Meyers says. "I just took it all in and was really impressed by the whole place. I guess you could say I wasn't expecting as much as I got. It was really impressive. Everything - the scale of the place, the quality of the people and the quality of the facilities. It was just a pleasant surprise."
The Greenwich High School junior says that his parents were more tuned into the academic aspects, while he harbored admittedly a greater football focus in examining Stanford.
"For me, it's mostly going to be the players and the coaches because a lot of places have great facilities," the recruit reports. "A lot of places have big stadiums. But it's the coaching and the kid that are the separating factor. I stayed with one of the kids, Alex Fletcher, who I knew previous to going out there. That was really cool, getting a feel for what it was to be a player there. That was a good experience. The coaches are great people, too. It was interesting to meet them."
Meyers' father, Glenn, is an alumnus and former player at Florida, also one of the early schools to tender an offer to the legacy recruit. Being familiar with Gainesville, the younger Meyers was able to compare and contrast the two schools.
"I guess climate-wise, Florida and Stanford are similar," he offers. "But every place you go is just so, so different, especially since I don't care where I go to school. I'm visiting down South and all the way out West. I'm looking at schools in the East, too. Every place you go is different. Weather is different, and the people are different."
"But I think the coaches and kids are the most important," Meyers maintains. "There is a pretty heterogeneous group of kids at Stanford, from all across the country. It was kind of interesting to see that. And Alex is actually from Long Island, which is pretty close to where I live in Southern Connecticut. We share some similar viewpoints."
The close bond between the Meyers and Fletcher families was a motivating factor in the Connecticut clan flying 2,600 miles on their dime in March, with Alex Fletcher playing the unofficial role of host to Johnathan Meyers during the visit.
"He told me about the whole area and San Francisco - how many opportunities there are out there," Meyers says. "I went in there with an open mind, not really knowing anything. He kind of gave me the inside track on a bunch of stuff: players, coaches, playing. What it's like to play at Stanford and play in the Pac-10 and around the country. It was definitely good to have some inside information, as opposed to going to places and getting just what the coaches give you. It's interesting to hear the players' point of view sometimes."
The real reason for the trip, however, was to meet the Cardinal coaching staff. Meyers says that he has been written by the breadth of the coaches, including a pair who have him on their recruiting board: linebackers coach Andy Buh and running backs coach Willie Taggert.
"A bunch of the letters I've received have said that I'm someone who can help turn the program around. I have the potential to be someone who is a catalyst to help change the way they do things out there," the two-way recruit comments. "I think they have really high hopes for me. It's definitely exciting and definitely a good opportunity, so I have a really good vibe from them."
"I spent time with the linebacker coach, Coach [Andy] Buh. He was talking to me about the system, how they play and their reads. I got a feel for how they play," Meyers says. "[Taggert] really likes my physicality. I'm a hard runner who is going to hit people. I think that's what he is most impressed by. Obviously speed is one thing, but also how I'm not afraid to lay a hit on somebody. He said not only fullback, but I also have the potential to be a big back in their system. That's exciting."
The only disappointment from the trip was the absence of a Stanford scholarship offer before he headed for home.
"I definitely think it's going to come in time," Meyers opines. "We'll see what their decision is, but I'm waiting for it."
"The coach who called me is the linebacker coach, who has been recruiting me, too," the recruit relates. "He said that he has four seniors graduating, and they need linebackers. They're looking across the country to find the best linebackers. He thinks I'm one of the top linebackers he's seen. He was really excited to get in touch with me and really excited to extend the offer my way. That was definitely exciting. It's a great program out there."
"He told me something that I didn't know, that they have the most academic All-Americans of any big D-I school. More so than Notre Dame," Meyers says. "It's a pretty surprising fact."
"I'm expecting some other offers to come in from some schools soon," he adds. "That's what my head coach is telling me. They're coming."
As Meyers' offer sheet grows, his recruiting dynamics will change. For now, he holds a serious interest in Stanford for what he can gain from the school and its education. Meyers is enrolled in all honors classes plus a pair of AP courses at Greenwich High School, while pulling down a weighted 4.4 GPA. He took the SAT for the first time in March and scored an impressive 2020.
"Stanford is definitely up there. I'm definitely considering them," Meyers maintains. "I wouldn't make a trip out there if I wasn't considering it because it's a long trip. I was happy with what I saw. They're definitely a candidate and up there."
"Right now I'm looking at Virginia, Penn State, Vanderbilt, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Florida, Maryland, Stanford, Notre Dame - that's the kind of schools I'm considering," he lists. "I've turned down interest from a bunch of other schools who just don't really meet my standards. I look for a school with great academics and great football. I think Stanford has the academic portion, and Florida has the football portion. Those other schools in the mix definitely combine both of them pretty well."
In assessing the competitive landscape for the Cardinal, the foremost foe has to be considered Florida. The Gators have recruiting cachet right now after winning a National Championship, but in the case of Meyers, there is also the family tie.
"Yeah, they're definitely up there," he allows.
The interest is serious enough that Meyers scheduled another visit to Gainesville this weekend.
"I'm trying to look at all these places and take a bunch of trips early," he explains. "I would like to try and make a commitment as soon as possible and as soon as I feel comfortable with the schools who have come in contact with me. I would like to make a decision as soon as I can. I don't want to rush into anything, but I would like to make it soon."
Meyers has already unofficially visited Stanford, Florida, Penn State, Boston College, Maryland and Notre Dame. With several strong offers already in hand and a desire to make an early commitment, could he pull the trigger for Florida while on this visit?
"It's definitely one of the last trips I'm going to take this spring," Meyers admits. "I wouldn't say I'm going to commit. I wouldn't say I'm not going to commit. That's something I have to talk with my family about."
As the captain of the Cardinals defense last fall, Meyers played middle linebacker. He racked up 127 tackles, 10 sacks and First-Team All-State honors. Meyers also suited up on offense as the featured back. He rushed for 1,140 yards and 23 touchdowns, gobbling up better than eight yards per carry.
"Yeah, I wasn't really coming off the field," he laughs. "I love both positions. Wherever I decide to go, wherever the team needs me, I'm happy to play both."
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