The talk of spring ball was none other than North Augusta native Reggie Merriweather. Merriweather surprised a lot of people when Tommy Bowden commented that he was the player that broke the longest runs in practice, but does that mean he can beat out Yusef Kelly and Duane Coleman for playing time in 2003?
Merriweather was an All-American by SuperPrep, USA Today, and Tom Lemming during his senior season. He also brought in all-state, all-region, and all-area as a junior and senior. He rushed for 2,580 yards as a senior with 29 touchdowns and added 1,870 yards and 18 touchdowns the year before. With the Tigers' depth at running back last season, Merriweather redshirted.
Merriweather had an outstanding spring practice, as he was named the most improved running back on the team. Head coach Tommy Bowden commented on more than one occasion that Merriweather was the one back that could score anytime he touched the football. As we all know, that's something that this offense sorely needs in 2003.
"He's always seemed to break a big run," Bowden said after one of the scrimmages this past spring. "He's starting to do it more consistently now though. He's really been a pleasant surprise. Spring is the time for everybody to show out, and he's definitely gotten everybody's attention."
Merriweather scored on a 75-yard run during one of scrimmages this past spring. From that point forward, there was really no looking back as he proved to be one of the most effective running backs throughout spring ball. He finished the Orange & White game 10 carries for 27 yards and 1 reception for 8 yards.
At 5-feet 8-inches tall, Merriweather is a back with a low center of gravity. He's one of those types of backs that gets lost in the line and can sometimes squirt out for big yardage. Watching him in practice, you notice that he's stocky and not easy to bring down. His speed is deceptive, and he's one of those types of backs that gets better as the game goes on. He also catches the ball well out of the backfield.
Merriweather surprised everybody this spring by asserting himself as one of the top running backs behind Yusef Kelly. However, that was in the spring. Now is when it really starts to count, and there's little doubt that both Kelly and Duane Coleman'll push him hard this fall. Simply put, the key for Merriweather will be his production on gameday. Tommy Bowden, Brad Scott, and Mike O'Cain have all said this summer that all three of these running backs will get an opportunity this year. Merriweather will get his chance early in the season, whether or not he continues to see significant action depends solely on his performance on gameday. In other words, the Tigers will want to ride the "hot hand" in the rushing game in 2003, and it will be up to Merriweather if that "hot hand" is going to be him.