CLEMSON – Secondary coach Charlie Harbison took safety Jonathan Meeks aside before practice last Friday and told him that when practice started, he wanted Meeks to take snaps with the first team.
Meeks took the news in stride, and said for him, it was just business as usual and the only people he told were his parents.
“When coach told me to go with the first team, I was excited of course,” Meeks said on Monday. “But we like to think that our defense has 22 starters anyway, because the guys that play backup are just as good the starters. It’s just who goes out there first. For me, the emphasis wasn’t on starting. I just want to play.”
Meeks played 41 snaps against Georgia Tech on Saturday, tallying six tackles and two passes broken up, the last which led to DeAndre McDaniel’s’ interception.
The sophomore from Rock Hill was Dabo Swinney’s first verbal commitment in 2008, and he avoided red shirting in 2009. He started out this season by playing 43 snaps in the first two contests, but just three total snaps in the three game stretch of Auburn, Miami and North Carolina. Against Maryland last week, he was back on the field for 22 plays.
He said on Monday that he nothing has really changed for him except for the fact he was in on more plays.
“I’ve been practicing the same,” he said. “It was a coaches’ decision, so I’m not really sure why I got the start. But I like it. Once I got out there, it just fell into place. I was out there just doing my job, and the other guys were doing their jobs. In practice, I hadn’t been making any huge mistakes or leaving guys uncovered. I was playing faster, and the coaches were getting confidence in me.”
Meeks had been behind McDaniel at strong safety, and he said that playing backup to someone as talented as McDaniel made it easier to accept not being on the field.
“It’s not like it was somebody that’s not that good,” he said. “He is a really good player, so there really wasn’t anything I could complain about. I just had to wait on my chance, and keep working. I think I proved that I deserved another chance.”
Meeks did have a chance at an interception on Saturday, but he didn’t come away with the ball, and said he was still mad at himself for that when he was asked to grade himself.
“I think my best moment was just playing, period,” he said. “It was good to be out there and making tackles and making plays. The worst moment was not taking advantage of the plays that were there. There were a couple of balls I had my hands on I should have gotten.”
He said that he has not been told he will be the starter at Boston College on Saturday. He was told that Swinney said on Sunday that Meeks deserved another shot, and he smiled and said that would make practice more enjoyable this week.
“I am not sure what their plans are because we haven’t met yet,” he said. “If he said that, it makes me excited, and I look forward to practice. I am going to work harder now that my role is bigger, and focus more on the details.”
Secondary Depth Chart
CB 12 MARCUS GILCHRIST 5-11 190 Sr.
15 Coty Sensabaugh 6-0 180 *Jr.
SS 2 DeANDRE McDANIEL 6-1 215 Sr.
32 Carlton Lewis 6-3 215 *So.
FS 5 JONATHAN MEEKS 6-1 205 So.
or 31 RASHARD HALL 6-2 200 *So.
CB 29 XAVIER BREWER 5-11 190 *So.
or 36 BYRON MAXWELL 6-1 205 *Gr.
James Davis released by Browns
Former Clemson running back James Davis was released by the Cleveland Browns on Monday. Davis, a sixth-round draft pick in 2009, had only four carries for 9 yards this year. Davis appears ready to start over with a new team as he tweeted Monday afternoon, "Finally granted my wish."