Trying to Make His Mark

There has been a big difference in safety Brandon Meriweather's mentality between this year and last year when he first arrived at Miami. Last year Meriweather received a medical redshirt after suffering an ankle injury after playing in three games.

"The difference between me this year and last year is last year I had a high school mind," Meriweather said. "A high school mentality and a high school way of practicing. This year I have been in the system for a year and I have learned how to practice. I learned when you sit around and when you don't. I learned everything. I learned how to work out in the weight room. It has been a pretty good experience so far."

Meriweather enjoyed a successful high school career capped off by a Florida Class 6A State Championship as a senior at Apopka High School.

"It was the best time of my life," Meriweather said. "I haven't yet had a chance here to do everything that I did in high school, but hopefully I will. High school was great. I was playing with some family members and everybody that I grew up with. Now at Miami, I just met everybody last year."

Hurricane teammate Terrell Walden remembers the type of player Meriweather was in high school.

"Coming out of high school he was known for his hard-hitting," Walden said. "Since I have been here he has done all of the things that he did in high school to keep the same name as a hard-hitter. He's trying to do what he did in high school."

Meriweather still keeps in touch with everyone from high school except for one of his closest friends, Theodis "Trey" McMiller.

On May 3, 2003, Theodis "Trey" McMiller drowned after his canoe capsized while he was fishing in a lake in Laurel Country, Georgia. McMiller was with another man who was able to save himself after the canoe tipped.

As a freshman wide receiver McMiller caught four passes for the 2002 NCAA Division I-AA champion Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. In high school, McMiller averaged 25.5 yards per catch with five touchdowns to help Apopka High School to a 14-1 finish and the state 6A title. He was chosen all-Metro Conference and all-Orange County by the Orlando Sentinel.

"He was my boy since Pop Warner," Meriweather said. "We started off going to church together and ever since then I met him through my other friend. We played Pop Warner together where he was an all-star. He was the first person in our Pop Warner league to score 36 touchdowns in a season."

Not only was Trey a talented football player he was also a great person.

"He was an all-around good person," said Meriweather. "He blessed a lot of people and he did a lot of things. It was hard for me when I lost him."

Even though Trey is not around, he is not gone and is not forgotten.

"It's like when I am doing bad, I feel like he is tapping on my shoulder letting me know that everything is going to be all right," Meriweather said. "I know he is always there for me and so it makes it easy on me, but its tough knowing that I will never see him again until I meet him upstairs. Other than that, its hard, but I know he is here with me watching me watching me everyday. I just pray for him."

Meriweather stays positive about the situation, but that doesn't mean it is easy for him. He keeps Trey close to his heart and his mind. It does not make sense how good people leave this world unexpectedly and we are left here to continue our lives. But that is what we have to do. That is what Meriweather has done.

The free safety from Apopka is enjoying his freshman season after receiving a medical redshirt last year after an ankle injury. Meriweather has played a lot as the dime back and has been contributing on special teams as well. He is just glad to be on the field after having to sit out last year after playing in only three games before the injury. Although he is playing, he does not like losing games.

"This season is not going too well because we have lost a couple, but other than that it is going all right," Meriweather said. "I am looking at it like I have to step up and have to do better because I am not doing too well."

Defensive backs coach Mark Stoops is happy with the progress that Meriweather has made.

"He is a good player. He is coming along and getting a lot better," Stoops said. "He has exceptional ball skills and is playing the ball really well. He does good in deep passes. He needs to get a little bit more physical, but he'll do that with time."

During the game against Virginia Tech, Meriweather recorded his first career interception. The Hokies were driving in the first quarter and Meriweather came up with an interception to halt the drive,

"It felt pretty good, but I can't take any of the credit," Meriweather said. "The defensive line put the pressure on the quarterback and the linebacker went too, so they had no choice but to throw the ball to me because I was a freshman. I just have to give all the credit to coach Shannon and the defensive scheme."

The secondary finished second in the country in pass defense allowing only 10.99 yards per completion and 5.73 yards per attempt.

"I think the secondary is doing real good this year." Meriweather said. "There are a couple things that we need to touch up on, but other than that we are doing pretty good. Everybody is gelling together and working hard together. The older guys are teaching the younger guys. I am still trying to be taught. Trying to follow the steps of a couple players."

The leader of the secondary is safety standout Sean Taylor who led the Big East with nine interceptions.

"Sean (Taylor) is a beast," Meriweather said. "He is wild and a great player. I would be surprised if he did not win the Thorpe award this year as the best defensive back. If you are going to be behind somebody, why not be behind the best. That is how I look at it."

The leadership on the defensive side of the ball has impressed the freshman Meriweather.

"Everybody helps everybody around here," Meriweather said. "If you don't have that, I don't think you can have a good defense. That is what we are trying to have. They are helping me and I am helping other people. Nobody knows everything and we are all just helping each other."

Not only has Meriweather excelled at defensive back this year, he also is taking advantage of his time on special teams.

"Around here you have to contribute somewhere," Meriweather said. "Right now I am on special teams so that is where I am trying to make my mark."

The young defensive backs have a unique bond that will continue to develop throughout their time at Miami.

"When we (the rest of the young defensive backs) all got here, we all clicked," Walden said. "I came in late, but we all clicked anyways."

Not only is Meriweather developing into a good player, he is also a good person.

"He's a good person," Walden said. "Off the field he is cool, we kick it. If you don't know him he probably wont say anything to you. He will probably just stay quiet. In the locker room everyone can be themselves. We are all family."

Not only are his teammates fond of him, but his coach enjoys being around him as well.

"He's a good person," Stoops said. "He is a good kid and fun to be around. He's a playmaker and you are going to see real big things out of him."

It is easy to root for good players, it is even easier to root for good people.

Christopher Stock is a Staff Columnist for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@grassy.com.

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