There’s one word that Quenton Meeks uses over and over again to describe his trip to Berkeley this past weekend: “Awesome.”
“Oh, it was awesome,” said the three-star 2015 cornerback. “It was just everything, from the campus to being around the players and just everything Cal has to offer me, it’s just an amazing place. I was definitely very excited about it, and glad that I took the trip.”
The most awesome part?
“Shoot, there’s a lot,” Meeks laughed. “I would probably say the tour of the campus, seeing how great the campus was, I didn’t know there was so much greatness on the campus. That was definitely a big thing. There was a lot of other stuff, too. Being around the players was a big thing, seeing how close they are to each other. That was just amazing. Being around the coaches, seeing coach Dykes’s family and all the coaches’ families, they really take care of their players. It was great, a great environment.”
After Saturday’s California loss to UCLA, the recruits headed out to the home of head coach Sonny Dykes, but Dykes himself headed to the hospital to check on injured receiver/return man Trevor Davis.
“I’ve heard some amazing things about coach Dykes in general, but just seeing that, obviously having recruits in for the weekend, but still making sure that he saw the injured player, that he was his No. 1, top priority, and he was making sure that he was OK, that was just amazing to see. A lot of people didn’t really notice that, but I did, and that was a great thing to see.”
Once the head coach came through the door, it was time to eat, and eat a lot.
“Oh, man, we ate so good,” Meeks chuckled. “It was the best. It was amazing food. My brain hurt. It was awesome. We sat around, and the players were there, as well, with the coaches, and we just ate and talked and watched the games. We watched the Notre Dame-Florida State game. It was just awesome.”
Meeks – a 6-foot-1, 185-pound corner – bonded in particular with two of Cal’s best defensive backs during his weekend trip.
“I would say my host Cameron Walker was a big one,” Meeks said. “Then, Stefan McClure. Those were the two that I really connected with. They were fun to be around, and just really good guys, in general, so I really enjoyed being around them.”
The fact that Meeks hung with two players who each played early in their time at Cal certainly didn’t hurt, because the Bears need defensive backs, and soon.
“No doubt, no doubt,” Meeks laughed. “They were giving me some insight on things, and about the program and everything. It was really good to be around you, and pretty much having them tell me how life is at Cal, and what I would go through. They were very informative and fun to be around, too.”
Meeks was paying close attention during the game to the play of the corners, and spent time chopping things up with defensive backs coach Greg Burns.
“I talked with coach Burns a lot,” Meeks said. “I talked to coach [Art] Kaufman a lot, even coach Dykes, and they really have pretty much made me a serious priority, a huge priority for them. During the game, I was looking to see how the coaches reacted with the players, and how the players interacted with each other, how the players played and responded, and how well they played as a team. That was a big thing. You want to go a place that’s like that. They play as a unit, so I really enjoyed that.”
One of the sayings that Dykes is fondest of, in describing the turnaround of the Cal program, and programs he’s been at before, is that, first, as a young and inexperienced team, you lose games, then, you start winning games you probably should, and losing the close ones, then, you start winning the games you should, plus a few you shouldn’t, and then, you win a lot. Meeks definitely saw evidence that the Bears are right in the middle of that continuum.
“Oh, man, it was awesome to see that,” Meeks said. “I definitely did. They played a very tough team in UCLA, and they battled with them the whole time. That’s a big step up from a year ago, where they got pretty much just walked through. All year, I’ve been noticing their progression as a team, and it’s unbelievable how far they’ve come from last year.
“[In 2013], I was questioning how they were going to respond to being 1-11, because that’s not a good look, but they’ve really stepped it up, and they’ve still got a lot of improvement to do, but they’ve made some huge leaps, as well. Just knowing that they’re in the process of that, and that most of their players are coming back – I think coach Dykes said they lose like, three or four seniors, so other than that, the whole team is coming back – next year, they’re going to be fun there really quick.”
Meeks admitted that, last year, Cal was a team that he overlooked, but now that the team has made improvements and started winning, the Bears are a real option. He said early in his visit that he “wanted to make sure” he got to Berkeley. Why? “They’re really high on my list.”
After the visit?
“I heard at the beginning of the year coach Dykes say that ‘Honestly, last year wasn’t too good, but we’re going to get better and progress, so you’ll see the progression,’ and I wanted to see it,” Meeks said. “I definitely do see it. It’s great to witness it.
“It’s definitely a place I really enjoyed, and has a lot of things to offer me. I want to take all the visits I need to. I’m not going to stop at this one. I want to see every school that I’m interested in. I’m pretty sure they have a lot of things that I like, as well, but it was definitely a great experience going up to Cal, and I’m glad I took the trip.”
The official visit to Berkeley was Meeks’s first, and he plans on going to Vanderbilt next. “Then,” Meeks said, “we’ll go from there.”
His list of contenders for his final three visits includes Stanford, Washington, Arizona State and UCLA, though, being so close to UCLA, he doesn’t know if he wants to waste an official there.
Meeks doesn’t have a firm date in mind for making his decision, but it will “definitely be after the season,” he said. “After I take all the visits I want, I’ll sit down with my parents, talk about it and I’ll pray on it a lot, and once I feel like it’s time, then that’s when I’ll make my pick. Hopefully. That’s before Christmas, but I never know. I’ve been changing my mind up so many times in this recruiting process, so we’ll see.”