Even though the Cincinnati Bearcats signed two quarterbacks to the recruiting Class of 2012, that did not sway Orlando Boone QB Alton Meeks, who committed to Cincy on Saturday night with a phone call to head coach Butch Jones just after informing recruiting coordinator/cornerbacks coach Shannon Morrison of his intentions.
"I just thought a lot of quarterbacks were committing early and I didn’t want someone to come in and commit to Cincinnati and take a spot away from me," said the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Meeks, who was being recruited by a number of schools as a linebacker. "I really liked it when I went up there and everything."
Many coaches have told Meeks he should play linebacker in college, but the former Florida state champion wrestler stood his ground. He's always played quarterback and that's what he intends to continue doing at the next level.
Last season, Meeks managed to throw for 1,273 yards and 15 touchdowns, but did have 13 interceptions and a completion rate of just 46 percent of 185 attempts.
Sure, Cincinnati signed Seabreeze QB Trenton Norvell and Plant City QB Bennie Coney in February, but Meeks is ready to go in and compete, and that will begin with his early graduation in December.
"I know they did get a couple of quarterbacks, but they were saying they were losing several guys and they need to take guys this year, as well, just so they have enough QBs on the depth chart," Meeks said. "I know my dad was pretty skeptical at first, but we looked at the depth chart and they don't really have too many QBs up there."
Meeks, ranked No. 14 as an athlete in the Sentinel's 2013 Central Florida Super60, picked Cincinnati over 13 other schools that have offered him.
"I didn’t really narrow it down to like a top five or anything, but I really liked Florida State, Iowa State, Minnesota ... and also UCF, USF and some other schools like Wake Forest, Duke and Vanderbilt."
The Bearcats landed five Florida players this past National Signing Day, as well, like Altamonte Springs Lake Brantley RB Ti'on Green. Including the 2012 signees, Cincinnati has 20 roster players from Florida, which also includes two other Orlando locals in Kissimmee Osceola senior DB Pat Lambert and red-shirt freshman DB Trenier Orr of Ocoee.
"Cincinnati recruits Florida pretty hard and they realize Florida is just loaded with talent.
Ultimately for Meeks, it was the people he encountered with the Cincinnati program that pulled him into the fold.
"I never really heard a guy say he committed to a school because the stadium was sweet or the school had shiny weights," Meeks said. "Sure, they have nice facilities and all, but from what I saw and what I have heard from others, it’s the people who are there that make the difference. They all seem like genuine people and the players are all cool guys and down to earth and I just really enjoyed my time up there.
"It's not just somewhere I’ll enjoy for just four of five years, however long I'll be there, but for 40 years after that."
What the Cincinnati staff likes about Meeks is his frame. The big-bodied QB reminds the Bearcats staff of former Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour, who was drafted into the NFL by the Chicago Bears in the sixth round in 2010. His career with the Bears, Bengals, Colts and Jaguars has been short-lived, but he once held the NCAA record for career touchdowns until Houston's Case Keenum broke that last season.
"They said he had the same exact height and speed and they considered him a dual threat," Meeks said. "[Cincinnati] runs an offense where they like to have a QB who can run the ball. They like my frame and everything and they think I can fit right in with what they do."
"It feels great. I feel like it's a really good place and a really good fit for me and I’m really excited about it."
He knows his commitment will not keep coaches from ringing up his number, but he intends to stay true to his pledge.
"Coach Jones just said he was real excited about it and to just stay strong on my commitment because, 'A lot schools are going to still come after you.' "
The Sentinel's Brendan Sonnone contributed to this report.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun