Coach Speak: Cameron Meredith

At Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, good records and division one talent is a yearly event. Coach Mike Harp has had some very good defensive lineman come through in his time at Mater Dei. Cameron Meredith though may be the most complete, defensive line player that he has ever had. Big words from a coach who knows football talent.

There are few programs that are better known than Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. You see them listed in the national top 25 every year. One of the top players for Mater Dei this past year was Cameron Meredith.

Meredith wasn't an unknown commodity coming into the high school ranks by his coaches. His position coach, Mike Harp, knew about Cameron from his prep school days and said that you knew then that there was something different about Cameron.

"I have known Cameron before he was at Mater Dei because he had an older brother," Coach Mike Harp said. "I got to see him play at the youth level and you could tell that there was something different about him.

"He just had that great motor playing at that level. When he was a sophomore, I didn't have a lot of depth on my defensive line and I really pushed to get him up as a sophomore to get him some time.

"By week three, he was starting against Mission Viejo who was ranked number one in the nation at that time. I think that he was our defensive player of the game. I think that we knew that we had something special."

What separates Meredith from the other players goes beyond physical talents. Meredith gave 100% on the field and away from it. That is something that Coach Harp knows is very special about Meredith.

"He has a great work ethic. He worked harder every day in practice than everyone since the day I had him until the end of the senior year. That's special. Sometimes seniors back it down and he didn't."

Mater Dei has produced talent. Mater Dei has produced Heisman Trophy winners. Coach Harp has a handful of defensive lineman in division one football right now and he says that Meredith compares favorably to all of them.

"There is a kid that is starting at Colorado named Brandon Nicolas who played for me, one of my first good defensive linemen. Cameron doesn't have the physical status of Brandon, but Cameron is a much better football player.

"Cameron understands the game, he wants to learn. He always wanted to know what coverage we were in and he really wanted to understand his part in the game.

"I think that I have six or seven kids playing division one now and Cameron is the full package. I think that he has the most upside."

Like all players, there are some things that Meredith is going to have to work on. At the high school level, Meredith was simply more athletic than the other players. At the next level, he will need to work on the physical side of his game.

"I think that he has to get bigger and thicker. I think that he has to get stronger. It was not an issue because his physical talent at this level, speed and agility, was so much greater than anyone else we ever played.

"He played against a kid named Tim Hodgdon who is going to Washington State and he was supposed to be the guy that no one could be. Cameron had three sacks that night, across from Hodgdon all night long.

"Cameron's speed was just something that nobody could match. The problem is that he still has to put on 30 or 40 pounds which he can do. He's a very young senior and he's going to go to Nebraska as a very young kid."

If there is something that people don't realize about Meredith's recruiting situation, it might be that things weren't 100% certain with him coming to Nebraska. It came down the wire. In fact, Oregon had an LOI there for Cameron to sign on signing day if he wanted it.

Coach Harp said that it was really a three-team race with Meredith, but once Cameron and his family got the vote of confidence from the new staff at Nebraska that it was easy to re-commit to Nebraska again.

"It was coming all the way down to the wire with Cameron. It was really down to Colorado, Oregon and Nebraska. I think that the job that Bo Pelini and Carl Pelini did was the big push. Cameron was a priority.

"For some reason, Bill Callahan's group wanted to grey shirt Cameron, or talked about greyshirting him, and no one understood what that was. I watched Nebraska play and I didn't think that they had a player like Cameron Meredith on that football team.

"I think that much of him. I think that he could come in and get into the weight program at Nebraska and get ready to compete. I know that Cameron could do that."

Coaches get a unique perspective to the recruiting situation and this year with Nebraska and Meredith, with the changing of the coaching staffs, was definitely unique. The new staff filled in the holes for Cameron and his family when they took over in Lincoln.

"Coach Bo Pelini and Coach Carl Pelini made Cameron a priority. They made as much of an effort with Cameron as they did to his parents. And his parents wanted Cameron to remember that you are committing to this team and five years of your life.

"The family felt more comfortable with the community than with the staff, I think, with Coach Bill Callahan's staff. What finalized things for Cameron was Coach Pelini's commitment to Cameron and to the family once they took over as a staff."

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