Senior quarterback Josh Nunes, who started the first nine games of Stanford’s 2012 Rose Bowl campaign, and senior fullback Geoff Meinken, a pounding blocker in 2011 before missing all of 2012 with a knee injury, announced their retirements from college football on Monday morning.
Nunes was recovering from a workout-related arm injury this offseason, while Meinken suffered a setback from his original knee injury at the 2012 Cardinal & White Spring Game.
As a redshirt junior, Nunes won the starting quarterback job last offseason after Andrew Luck’s departure, demonstrating a stronger command of the playbook than fellow passer Brett Nottingham, who had a stronger arm. Nottingham transferred to Columbia in December after losing the battle.
Nunes’ offseason work ethic, however, did not translate well to game days. Nunes completed only 52.8 percent of his passes, however, falling short of head coach David Shaw’s expectation of 60 percent as the Cardinal lost two of its first six games. He was replaced by redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan as the starter for the last three games of the regular season, the Pac-12 Championship Game and the Rose Bowl. Hogan went 5-0 over that stretch against four ranked teams and Wisconsin.
Despite the inaccuracy that doomed the Cardinal in its losses to Washington and Notre Dame, Nunes played an important role in Stanford’s upset of then-No. 2 USC. Though he was just 15-for-32 through the air with two interceptions, he made several crucial plays with his feet, including a late-game scramble for 12 yards on third-and-10. Two play later, he threw the game-winning touchdown to tight end Zach Ertz.
Nunes also had a career game in a 54-48 overtime win against Arizona, rallying the Cardinal from a two-touchdown deficit in the final 9:06 and accounting for five scores, setting the Stanford record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (three) in the process.
Meinken played in all 13 games in 2011 as Stanford’s backup fullback, as he and classmate Ryan Hewitt combined to fill the void left by departed senior Owen Marecic. His helmet-crunching style was a change of pace up the middle, and he broke off a career-long 40-yard run against Duke. Meinken’s last career carry, however, was a fumble on Stanford’s own 2-yard line in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl, resulting in an Oklahoma State field goal.
Had he been healthy enough to return, Meinken would have competed with Hewitt, redshirt junior Lee Ward and redshirt sophomore Patrick Skov for playing time.
Contact Joseph Beyda at jbeyda ‘at’ stanford.edu.