SPRINGFIELD – When Grant Meadors made his debut at Autzen Stadium during Oregon’s spring game in April, his first kickoff went out of bounds.
“That was the most nervous that I have ever been,” the UO kicker said.
Meadors’ nervousness was understandable because he would have been finishing up his senior year of high school in Bakersfield, Calif., at the time if he had not graduated early to join the Ducks for spring practice.
Those extra months on campus and 15 spring practices paid off when he returned to the field in the fall.
Meadors has kicked in two games for the Ducks and made all four of his extra points in an 81-7 win over Portland State. He combined for five kickoffs against Portland State and Hawaii with four going for touchbacks and the other one being taken out of the end zone by a Hawaii returner who was tackled at the 12-yard line.
“Being here for spring football helped get all the nerves out,” Meadors said. “That set me up for this season to be able to go in and play freely.”
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Meadors is spending this season as a backup to senior Camden Lewis, a two-time all-conference player who became Oregon’s all-time leading scorer last week with an extra point at Arizona State. Meadors, a preferred walk-on, will be among the contenders to replace Lewis next season so he is learning all he can from the veteran kicker.
“Cam is kind of a teacher to all of us,” Meadors said. “Mental preparation, Cam has been through it so he is teaching a lot of us younger guys. He can help us mentally and physically. He has helped me make strides and grow as a kicker so I can be prepared when he leaves.”
Meadors is part of a young group of Oregon specialists that includes freshman punter Luke Dunne, who is Meadors’ roommate in Springfield.
Meadors grew up playing numerous sports before focusing on football and soccer at Liberty High School in Bakersfield, Calif. He attended kicking camps around the country in eighth grade and continued to focus on those skills when Covid shut down schools during his freshman year of high school.
“I went to camps and compared myself to the people ahead of me and realized I could be good at it,” he said. “When Covid came, I kicked every day with my trainer and that was when I saw the most improvement.”
Meadors played a variety of positions during his first two years of high school before focusing on special teams as a junior. He played safety in addition to his kicking and punting duties as a senior when he helped Liberty win the CIF Central Section Division I championship while being ranked as the No. 9 kicker in the country by 247Sports.
He also worked on his kicking skills during soccer season as a center-back.
“I would take all the goal kicks and free kicks,” he said. “When you have to make those kicks in soccer, they need to be elevated like a field goal, so that translates to kicking.”
Meadors had numerous college offers.
“Oregon was my dream school growing up, I watched Marcus Mariota and the Ducks at that time,” he said. “They reached out late in recruiting and I had to take this chance because it felt right. I prayed on it and felt like it was my purpose, that God put me in position to come to Oregon and play here.”
Meadors is part of an Oregon team that is 10-1, including a 7-1 record in Pac-12 play, and ranked No. 6 in the College Football Playoff rankings.
“I have been here almost a year now so I feel like I have been through almost everything,” he said. “Going on the road to play Texas Tech was a wild environment and I got to watch that from the sideline. I sat there and prepared myself mentally when Cam had to make those three big kicks. I treat it like I am in the game and I am learning every game to prepare for the future when I get called to go in and kick.”
Meadors spent last summer helping coach kids during the Next Level flag football league at UO. He plans to do some kicking camps in Oregon and Washington during the spring and summer.
During Next Level, Meadors coached along with Jason Gerber, the owner of B.E.S.T. Roofing and Waterproofing. Meadors ran the offense and Gerber coached the defense on a team that featured Gerber’s son.
Their friendship continued beyond the season as Meadors found a mentor in Gerber.
“I have a big interest in owning my own business and learning from entrepreneurs,” Meadors said. “We started going to lunch and talked about building my own brand and he has given me opportunities to do that in the local community.”
Gerber is planning to have Meadors appear in some upcoming commercials for his local business.
“Every time we talked he would pick my brain about business and how he aspires to build a business and run it,” Gerber said. “It kind of progressed over the last five or six months and I hope to work with him for the next three or four years.”
Meadors has found success on and off the field during his first year at UO as the Ducks look to make a run for the national championship.
“It has been amazing because the connection that each player has to the guy next to him is amazing, something I’ve never seen before,” Meadors said. “Everyone is willing to show up each day and give it 110 percent. It has been fun to be a part of it and watch this team grow.”