Union junior Jeffery Mead has basketball build, but is football prospect, too
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Friday, February 22, 2013
4/02/13 at 7:10 AM
A look at the deep talent pool in the Tulsa-area
Because his 6-foot-4 father played at Texas State and his 5-9 mother played at Texas-Arlington, Jeffery Mead seems foreordained for a career in college basketball.
Standing a fraction of an inch below 6-7 while weighing only 170 pounds, Mead has a basketball physique and certainly seems destined to become a college athlete.
However, there now exists the strong possibility that when the Union High School junior graduates to a higher level of competition, it could occur as a wide receiver in football.
Within the past few days, Mead was offered football scholarships by Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Clemson, California and Washington State. Southern Cal has expressed interest. So have Tennessee and Georgia Tech.
At Union, Mead plays football, basketball and baseball. The OU, Stanford and Wichita State basketball programs have corresponded with Mead.
Mead was a big-play specialist during Union's 2012 football season. There were 33 receptions for 614 yards and seven touchdowns. More than the numbers, college coaches notice the potential for mismatches. By at least six inches, Mead is taller than most cornerbacks.
"I told him a year ago, when he got out of baseball in May, that if he had a good junior year that he would have options - an opportunity to decide on football or basketball," Union football coach Kirk Fridrich said. "You can't coach a kid to be tall or run or catch. There aren't a lot of those guys out there."
Two frequently asked questions:
Said DeJuan Brown, Mead's father: "The world is Jeffery's playing field now. He has a chance to do whatever he wants to do."
- Which sport is Mead's favorite? His response: "That's a question that I can't even answer. I've never really loved one more than the other."
- Will he choose college football or college basketball? "I don't know what I'll do," he said. "It's too early. It just depends on what the best option winds up being."
"I love the game of basketball to death," Brown added, "but I love my son more. This is his life and his path. He's going to get advice from a lot of people - people telling him to quit one thing and focus on the other - but it has to be his decision. In 20 or 30 years, I want him to be happy with his decisions."
Mead is the tallest member of an uncommonly deep group of Tulsa-area junior football prospects. In a typical year, a dozen area players would be offered major-college scholarships. Within the Class of 2014 are nearly 30 players who are expected to get offers from Football Bowl Subdivision programs.
"We've already seen more continual activity with college coaches than we've seen in the past," Broken Arrow coach Steve Spavital said.
The University of Tulsa already has extended offers to, among others, Berryhill tight end Jeremy Smith, Broken Arrow linebacker Gyasi Akem and Bixby offensive lineman Chandler Miller. Smith also has attracted the attention of coaches from OU, OSU, Michigan Tennessee, Memphis and Texas Tech. Already with offers from OU and OSU, Akem has been taking calls from Ole Miss.
How loaded is the Jenks secondary? Both of the Trojans' starting safeties have been contacted by Alabama. Four-star prospect Steven Parker's offer list includes the Crimson Tide, OU, OSU, TU and Nebraska. Dylan Harding has offers from TU, Colorado State and Memphis, and this week he was invited to attend a Junior Day event at Alabama.
"Getting that first offer (from TU) was definitely a weight lifted off of my shoulders," Harding said. "It's every kid's dream to get the best offer than you can, but the first offer is the best offer.
"It's pretty early in the process, but TU is close to home. It will come down to what fits me and my family the best. If it's Tulsa, it's Tulsa. We'll see what happens in the next few weeks."
When a receiver is said to have made a one-handed catch, the reception might involve the hand and the forearm, with the football wedged against the ribcage. Against Broken Arrow last season, on a sideline pass play, Mead made a literal one-handed catch of a ball that was thrown behind him. He was effectively defended, but plucked the ball out of the air with his right hand. He collected the football in the same way that other guys catch a tennis ball.
"Did you see some of the catches he made?" Spavital said of Mead. "Is he polished yet? Maybe not. Can he get a lot better? Oh, yeah."
On the subject of Mead's slender build, Brown said, "Trust me, man - he's been on protein shakes and high-calorie diets. It's just that his metabolism is so fast. He just burns it up. Playing three sports, he doesn't have down time when he could put on some weight."
College strength coaches have a knack for putting weight on athletes. When Keyarris Garrett arrived at TU as a 6-4 freshman wide receiver, he weighed 185 pounds. In a football uniform, he looked a lot like Mead. Today, Garrett is a 215-pound junior and one of the top wideouts in Conference USA.
"When Jeffery chooses one sport and focuses completely on that one sport, he'll get bigger and he'll get better in that sport," Brown said. "In every way, there's going to be so much growth."
Mead says he's open to an additional possibility - playing both football and basketball in college.
"Maybe at a school like OU or TU," he said. "Yeah, I've considered it. We'll just have to see how it goes."
Original Print Headline: Attractive options
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
Jeffery Mead is a multi-sport athlete from Union and is highly regarded in both football and basketball. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World
Union's Jeffery Mead has received interest in basketball from OU, Stanford and Wichita State. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World