A Vocal Leader on Defense

Brandon Meriweather, a junior safety from Apopka, is expected to be a vocal leader on the defense this year. Last year Meriweather started seven games recording 62 tackles and two interceptions.

Brandon Meriweather has matured since arriving in Coral Gables in 2002 after leading Apopka to the Florida class 6A state championship in 2001. He was known as a big-hitter coming in, but has developed into an all-around player.

"I think I am smarter, older, and more mature since I first got here," Meriweather said. "I know the playbook better. I weigh a little more and I'm stronger. Basically I have improved a lot. When I first got here I was basically looking to hit somebody. Now I understand it is more important to get the ball back on offense."

Although he has matured in his mentality he still likes to get a big hit, but not quite as much.

"A big hit is great every now and again," Meriweather said. "Don't get me wrong, I still love the big hit. If I had to choose between getting an interception and a big hit, now I would pick the interception, but when I came in I would have picked the big hit."

Meriweather started the fall as the first-team strong safety alongside free safety Anthony Reddick. The coaches like Meriweather's energy and vocal leadership. He also has good ball skills, which has developed into his strength.

"I have always been around the ball, but I haven't always got the ball," Meriweather said. "It has not always been my strength, but now I feel like getting the ball is my strength."

The 6-foot-0, 190-pound safety is also one of the vocal leaders of the defense. The defense has been practicing with a lot of energy this fall and they hope to carry it over in games this season.

"It is not just one person that has the energy, a lot of guys do," Meriweather said. "There are days when I'm flat and then Tavares Gooden has the energy so we feed off of him. He is basically the one with a lot of energy."

Having energy every day this season is not something that will be manageable. However, it will be important to have other guys step up when the energy level is down.

"I know that every day I am not going to have tons of energy, I already know that," Meriweather says. "And gooden might not have energy one day. There might be some days where nobody has any energy. That is where the leadership comes into play where we have to push each other to get that energy."

Meriweather is one of six defensive backs expected to be in the dime package. Marcus Maxey, Kelly Jennings, Devin Hester, Greg Threat, and Anthony Reddick are the other five.

Having that many key guys back only makes things easier on the field.

I"t is real nice," Meriweather said. "We have people that you know can come off the bench and play. If I ever get tired in a game or I need a break, then I let someone come in. It is great. It is one of the best things that I have ever been around since I have been here."

With Kelly Jennings being a mentor to Bruce Johnson, Marcus Maxey with Randy Phillips, Meriweather has been a mentor for safety Kenny Phillips. Phillips splashed onto the scene this fall recording a number of interceptions in practice.

"As of right now Kenny will be more of a hitter, but by the time I leave hopefully I will have helped him and the coaches will have helped him become him more of a ballplayer—more like Sean T.," Meriweather said. "That is what I expect him to be like because he has the size and the speed. He has the awareness and the ability. I expect him to be like…Sean Taylor."

Christopher Stock is a Senior Writer & Assistant Editor for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@canestime.com

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