It's a long way from Rock Hill, S.C. to Buffalo, N.Y., but the company is helping Jonathan Meeks to feel right at home.
Reunited with former Clemson teammates C.J. Spiller, Chris Hairston and Crezdon Butler as a rookie draftee with the Buffalo Bills, Meeks is enjoying a couple of other connections in former South Carolina Gamecocks' star and Rock Hill native Stephon Gilmore and long-admired NFL safety Jairus Byrd.
Meeks, who was Buffalo's fifth-round pick, hopes to work as an understudy to Byrd in the Bills secondary, and alongside Gilmore and Butler, who man cornerback positions.
Meeks described Gilmore as a close friend.
"Yeah that’s one of my real good friends," Meeks said during his introductory teleconference with BuffaloBills.com. "We grew up competing against each other throughout high school and college and we kept our relationship even when he went to the NFL. I will be honored to play with him."
As for Byrd, Meeks said he expects to learn a great deal from the Pro Bowl safety, who has yet to sign a long-term contract offer from the Bills.
"He’s a great player," Meeks said. "You just can’t let players like that leave. He is a great player to learn from."
Meeks, uninvited to the NFL Combine and generally regarded as a free agent prospect going into the draft, said that being overlooked and playing with a chip on his shoulder is nothing new. Out of high school, Meeks had no scholarship offers; but he attended prep school and got his chance when Clemson offered.
Asked about his 'chip,' Meeks said "there definitely was and there still is."
"They say the draft is definitely not the end; it is the beginning," he said. "I haven’t been able to express that the chip is still on my shoulder. Things happen for a reason, so that is just going to make me more hungry as a player and as a person as well."
His first impression of the Bills' attack-minded defense under coordinator Mike Pettine is a positive one.
"I feel like it will work well for me," Meeks said. "We had a chance to go over some plays, where he drew up some plays. I just fell in love with the defense within one day and coach as well.
"The things they were showing me are things I would be able to do. I know as a player that I could perform really well for the Bills and I want to do that."