Rookie safety hopes shot at dream pays off

WES GILBERTSON

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

Don't expect to hear Quinton Meaders complaining about the CFL pay scale.

A half-decade removed from his last organized football outing and fresh off a stint working in a furniture warehouse for just $8 an hour, the Calgary Stampeders rookie safety is simply thrilled about the prospect of earning a paycheque in his cleats.

After finding out how long Meaders has been waiting for this opportunity, you believe him when he says, "It don't matter how much they pay me."

If he can earn a job in the Stamps' secondary, Meaders will be a front-runner for feel-good story of the CFL season.

When Stampeders defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones called to arrange a pro tryout, the 25-year-old was in the middle of his shift at a warehouse in Tupelo, Miss. A few months later, he's showcasing his skills at McMahon Stadium, hoping he's operated a forklift for the last time.

"I was so happy when (Jones) called me that day at work," Meaders said. "I told my bossman, I've got to go follow my dream. I cannot be out here, working hard, making $8 an hour every day when I could wake up every morning and do something I like to do.

"And I love football."

It's been five years since Meaders played his last down at Itawamba Community College, where he doubled as a receiver and defensive back.

Turns out, he made quite an impression in his brief stint with the Indians. The same football insider who unearthed starting safety Milton Collins last season suggested Jones give him a shot.

The Stamps defensive guru contacted an old pal -- Meaders' position coach at Itawamba -- and was intrigued by what he heard.

"I called him and I said, 'Who is this guy?'" Jones said. "He coached (ex-New Orleans Saint and current free agent) Deuce McAllister and he's coached a bunch of NFL guys and he said 'I've got one picture on my wall and it's of Quinton Meaders.' He said he's the best player he's ever coached."

Meaders has been slowed by an ankle injury that kept him on the sidelines for four straight training camp sessions, but has been back in action the past two days. He is battling Collins and non-import Wes Lysack for playing time at the safety position.


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