LSU Football Flashback: Running Back Rondell Mealey
Former LSU running back Rondell Mealey may have backed up Kevin Faulk for 3 years in Baton Rouge, but that didn’t stop him from making huge plays.
The 6’0, 212 pound halfback grew up playing ball in the New Orleans area, starring at Destrehan high in the mid nineties. Believe it or not, Mealey wasn’t the most recruited player on his high school team. Future NFL Hall of Famer Ed Reed was a teammate of Mealey’s but elected to sign with Miami. Mealey stayed in state, signing with the Tigers.
Despite sharing a backfield with Faulk, Mealey put up impressive numbers in his 4 seasons with theTigers, seeing action in every game. In his freshmen season of 1996, Mealey racked up 11 touchdowns and 689 yards from scrimmage.
His sophomore campaign was even better, as he finished with 724 yards from scimmage and 7 touchdowns. In the Independence Bowl, Mealey put together the best game of his career.
After losing to Notre Dame in Tiger Stadium during the regular season 24-6, the Tigers got another shot at the Irish in the 1997 Independence Bowl on a freezing night in Shreveport. Faulk sprained his ankle late in the 2nd quarter, as the Tiger offense struggled to gain momentum. Down 6-3 at halftime, LSU fed Mealey the rock in the 2nd half.
Mealey gashed the Notre Dame defense with 222 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns on that frigid evening. (You’ll see him plenty in the video below)
In 2010, Mealey was inducted into the Independence Bowl Hall of Fame. His 222 yards rushing ranks second best in Independence Bowl history. Guess who holds the record? Kevin Faulk, who rushed for 234 yards two seasons earlier in a 45-26 LSU victory over Nick Saban’s Michigan State Spartans.
In 1998, Mealey formed an impressive one-two punch with senior Faulk. When Mealey touched the ball, he made things happen, averaging 4.9 yards a carry. While he finished the season as the second leading rusher that year, (334 yards, 4 TDs rushing, 2 TDs receiving) it was Faulk who dominated. Kevin fishined his senior year with 1,566 yards from scrimmage, 15 touchdowns, and left Baton Rouge for the NFL as LSU’s all-time leading rusher and the SEC’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards.
Faulk was great, and his greatness is, was, and should always be recognized. Mealey was a rare talent as well, but sharing a backfield with arguably the best running back in Tiger football history led him to be overlooked at times.
In his senior season, Mealey entered as the #1 RB for LSU where he generated the best statistical season of his career. Starting every game, he led the team in rushing with 637 yards and 8 touchdowns. He also reeled in 16 passes for 147 yards and a score, despite having a subpar offensive line. However, the season is best remembered for the struggles LSU endured throughout.
After beginning the year 2-0, the Tigers lost 8 games in a row, leading to the firing of head coach Gerry DiNardo. Interim Hal Hunter took over for the final game of the year against Arkansas, a 35-10 win for LSU. In his final game as a Tiger, Mealey ended his college career the way he started it, making plays. On that Friday afternoon in a largely forgotten game, Mealey rushed 82 yards and a 20-yard touchdown, adding 4 catches for 70 yards with a 48-yard score for good measure.
Following his time in Baton Rouge, Mealey was drafted in the 7th round (252nd overall) of the 2000 drafted by the Green Bay Packers. In two plus seasons with Green Bay, Mealey saw time as the backup running back, seeing limited action on offense. (22 carries, 73 yards, 9 receptions, 76 yards receiving 2 touchdowns). While he didn’t touch the ball frequently, he was a regular on the Packers special teams unit.
Mealey made Green Bay’s opening day roster in 2002, seeing the field early in the season. However, Mealy was placed on waivers in late September. Mealey did not speak publicly about the release, but various reports indicated he was shocked, and somewhat bitter. After taking the season off, Mealey attempted a return to the NFL in 2003, trying out for Detroit, Tampa Bay, and Houston, but was not signed.
Today, Mealey is busy being a Dad and working as an operator for Marathon Oil here in Louisiana.