Sept. 22, 2005
By Jonathan Price
Just imagine a game without offensive linemen: quarterbacks running for their lives, running backs being smothered at the handoff -- if even a handoff could occur.
It's the linemen that do the dirty work in the trenches, freeing up the space needed for the flash-and-dash skill players to best utilize their talents. There are only three requirements to be a successful offensive lineman: be big, be strong, and don't be shy about close physical contact. Oh, and it doesn't hurt to have a little mean edge.
"Mean" is certainly not the first word that comes to mind when one considers Robin Meadow. Standing at 6-foot-6, and 295 pounds, one can hardly help the thought that perhaps this hulking physical presence wasn't exactly what his parents envisioned when they christened him "Robin Meadow." Meadow, however, is your prototype lineman -- big, strong, and perfectly proportioned to wear down opposing defensive linemen.
Being a lineman, though, isn't just about size and attitude.
"I remember a tight end that we used to have, Kevin Ware, who is playing in the NFL now," Meadow says. "He used to tell me that blocking is all physics; it is all about the leverage. It doesn't matter how big you are, it is all about getting under the other guy's pads. All you need is good technique and good leverage; size isn't so much of the issue."
A tight bond is also essential to a successful offensive line, a tenet Meadow and senior center Brad Vanneman have taken to heart, renting a house with senior linebacker Evan Benjamin. Whether playing a friendly game of ping-pong or relaxing at a backyard barbeque, rooming together has brought these two Husky offensive linemen closer both on and off the field.
"We love to barbeque," Meadow says. "Sometimes we will go to the beach or just hang out at the house. I definitely feel like it is something that has brought us closer, and it's always good to be close with the guys that you have to go to battle with every day."
Vanneman agrees: "I think it is good to live together," he says. "We can share battle stories or just talk about anything. It makes it a lot easier to go through all that we go through if you can share it with someone else. Rob is a great roommate."
The Huskies are hoping that any bonds formed by their offensive linemen will translate to success on the football field, where the team is looking to turn around from a 1-10 season in 2004. Many of the Huskies have cited a need to remember "how to win" as key to the 2005 season. They should look no farther than Meadow -- a 2001 graduate of De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., Meadow was an integral part of a Spartans' squad that won a U.S. prep-record 151-consecutive games between 1991-2004, including state championships in each of Meadow's four seasons.
"That experience was one of those things that you don't really appreciate until it's done," Meadow says. "The coaches were so good about keeping us in the moment and taking things week to week, that we really didn't think about what was going on."
Meadow carried his high-school success straight into college, cracking the UW's starting lineup for the first time as a redshirt freshman in 2002, and starting 10 of 11 games in 2004 after missing nearly all of 2003 with an injury. Now entering his final season with the Huskies, the 2004 Jewish Sports Review first-team All-American says that while his individual successes have been nice, nothing short of team success will be acceptable this season.
"I can see a positive difference with this team," he says. "Everybody wants to get last season behind them and move on to what we have ahead of us this year. We have a clean slate in front of us and a mostly healthy offensive unit. We just have to take it one game at a time and bring the things that we have been doing in practices into our games."
Big, strong and intimidating, Robin Meadow is a prototype offensive lineman. Maybe that's just what he was supposed to be all along.