- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
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We’re kicking off this year’s Meet the Freshmen series with the member of Texas’ 15-man signing class that Longhorns fans know the least about: Montrel Meander.
The Amarillo (Texas) Palo Duro wide receiver was the final piece of the class, committing two days before signing day. He’d been committed to Washington State and had taken official visits to WSU, New Mexico, San Diego.
But Texas, seeking one more receiver for 2013, made a last-second run at Meander and stole him in a rapid five-day recruitment that included a surprise official visit. Now Meander is preparing to make the eight-hour drive south to Austin to join the program this week, and he’s ready to make a name for himself.
HornsNation: When you think back, how crazy was that final week before signing day for you?
Montrel Meander: It was real crazy for me. For a long time I wasn’t thinking that Texas was going to be in my future. For them to come so late, it was a blessing to me. I was confused -- I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. It took a lot of hard thinking after the visit.
HN: What was it about Washington State that you really fell in love with? Or was it simply that they were your best option?
Meander: They were really my best option, to me. They sounded legit. Their coaches were honest men and they didn’t beat around the bush about nothing. I wanted to play for them, and they said I had a strong possibility to start when I came in.
HN: Hadn’t Texas only been talking to you for only two days when you boarded the plane for the official visit to Austin?
Meander: I took the visit on Saturday morning before signing day. I first heard from Texas on that Thursday. Coach [Darrell] Wyatt contacted my head coach and coach told me to call him. I called and Coach Wyatt told me I should come down that following day and that, most likely, I was going to be offered a scholarship. Then he offered me a scholarship and asked me to go on the visit, and I told him I would. He asked if I could come right after school Friday but I had a basketball game. So after my game was over, I called him and then I took the visit that next morning.
HN: What sold you on wanting to take that visit?
Meander: Texas has always been one of my favorite schools. I told my friends if Texas, Oregon or Oklahoma ever came, I would probably choose one of them over any other school. When they did come, I couldn’t deny it.
HN: What was the reaction around your high school when you committed to Texas?
Meander: Everybody was just real surprised. People really didn’t know until the day of the signing. Everybody thought I was going to Washington State. The only people who really knew was my basketball team because I had to leave them for the visit. When we signed, everybody came up to us after said said, ‘Why aren’t you going to Washington State?’ Now, wherever I go, people recognize me and ask me about it and congratulate me.
HN: So even though you publicly committed to Texas on that Monday, word really hadn’t gotten up to Amarillo until two days later?
Meander: Uh huh. They didn’t know.
HN: What has Wyatt told you about where he sees you fitting in and what you can do as a freshman?
Meander: He told me I can help out at the receiver position. I have speed and I’m quick on my feet. I can make quick catches. My main position in high school was safety, so as a receiver I know how to run my routes away from the corners and safeties. I know how to avoid them and make big plays. Coach Wyatt told me he doesn’t think I will redshirt. They won’t redshirt me unless it’s my choice or if I don’t pick up on things fast enough.
HN: You’re the lowest-rated guy in the Texas class. Do you feel like that’s all about being in Amarillo, and that if you were in a bigger city people would know more about you?
Meander: Yes sir, I do. In the Panhandle we really don’t have that many athletes who come out of here. Because of how small we are as a town, they overlook us. For me to get that look is a blessing and I really have to make a name for the Panhandle and the small towns of Texas.
HN: Did it bug you that you were generally considered a three-star guy and didn’t get much attention?
Meander: I kind of take it as motivation. I don’t let it get to me. I can compete just as good as the other dudes from the city. The only thing they’ve got that’s bigger than me is the city they’re from. That’s the only thing. I feel like my talent is just as good as theirs. I’ve just got to work hard and put some intimidation in people’s hearts.
HN: Are you excited about the fact that Texas fans really don’t know that much about you yet?
Meander: It’s very exciting to know that I decommitted from Washington State because I could go to Texas. I don’t regret nothing. I feel comfortable with what I did and I feel like I have the best opportunity at Texas. I’m going to make the best of it.