Wonder Boys Legend Eddie Meador Dies at 86

Eddie Meador
Eddie Meador

The most successful professional athlete to ever emerge from the halls of Arkansas Tech University has passed away.

ATU alumnus and former Los Angeles Ram Eddie Meador died on Monday, Sept. 4. He was 86.

“Most of the pro players with the Rams asked where Arkansas Tech is and what that Wonder Boy thing is,” said Meador in a 2021 interview. “I said I was going to show them what a Wonder Boy really is. As I look back over it, the players at Tech when I was there were outstanding. We gave our all in every sport there was. We really are Wonder Boys. I was fortunate to get a good education (at Arkansas Tech). That was my No. 1 thing.”

Meador earned four football letters at Arkansas Tech from 1955-58.

His 95-yard touchdown run against the University of the Ozarks on Sept. 27, 1958, remains the longest run from scrimmage in Arkansas Tech history. Three weeks later Meador rushed for 239 yards against Hendrix College. It was, at the time, the most rushing yards ever recorded by a Wonder Boy in a single game and it remains top four in that category all-time.

Meador is one of just three Wonder Boys to record multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He was the first to achieve that feat. In all, Meador rushed for 3,410 career yards, which stood for more than a decade as the school record and remains one of the three highest career rushing totals in Tech history.

Meador scored 43 rushing touchdowns as a Wonder Boy. Only John Tucker, the Original Wonder Boy, has more. Meador scored 260 career points. Again, only John Tucker has more.

Meador’s play helped the Wonder Boys earn their first two postseason football berths with appearances in the Rice Bowl at Stuttgart in 1957 and 1958. Arkansas Tech clinched a share of the AIC championship in 1958 by defeating Ouachita Baptist 52-10 on Nov. 15 in Meador’s final conference game.

Following his senior season, Meador became the first Arkansas Tech player voted to the Associated Press Little All-America team. Only two more Wonder Boys achieved that distinction in the 40 years that followed.

It was all enough to capture the attention of the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League. They drafted Meador with the 80th pick in the 1959 NFL Draft. He immediately earned a spot as a starting defensive back. Over the next 12 years, Meador appeared in 163 games, made 160 starts, was selected to the Pro Bowl six times and was voted first team all-pro on two occasions.

Meador completed his career with 46 interceptions, most in Rams’ franchise history, and five career interception returns for a touchdown, tied for most in Rams’ franchise history.

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame recognized Meador’s achievements by selecting him as a member in 1978. He was inducted into the ATU Hall of Distinction in 1969 and was a member of the inaugural class of the ATU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2022.

A celebration of Meador’s life is planned for 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16, at First Baptist Church of Russellville in the old sanctuary. The Meador family reports it will be casual with a visitation immediately following in the same venue. A live stream will be available through First Baptist Church of Russellville.