Practice Tour: Justin Meredith

ANDERSON, S.C. --- Kenya Fouch, T.L. Hanna's head football coach, says as soon as news of Butch Davis' dismissal spread, he was contacted by other schools inquiring about the status of Justin Meredith's verbal commitment.

"They'd be crazy not to [inquire]," Fouch said.

"But, by the same token, the advice I give the kids – and I don't say ‘You ought to go to school here' – is you need to go to school where you want to go to school – coaches come and go. You can have a losing season and the coach will get fired. You could win the national championship and your coach goes to be the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. So you just never know win or lose who's going to be there. So you shouldn't go to play for a coach – you need to go to school where you want to go to school.

"Justin really fell in love with the University of North Carolina. That's why he ended up making the decision that he did. Even with everything that's going on, I wouldn't be surprised if he sticks with that commitment."

Meredith, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound tight end, does indeed plan on sticking to his commitment, which he made in late May.

"I'm still committed to UNC," Meredith said. "I've committed to the University and not the coaching staff. And that's where I really want to go to school at. And I feel like that's where I'm going to go to school at, unless these sanctions are hard and is something I really don't like."

Under normal circumstances, Meredith speaks to Allen Mogridge, his primary recruiter and UNC's tight ends coach, weekly. Since Davis was dismissed, they've had several conversations.

"When the news came out, he was just as shocked as I was," Meredith said. "He was like, ‘Dude, I just found out 30 minutes before you did.' He said everything is going to be alright."

UNC's current offense utilizes two tight ends – a ‘Y' and an H-back. Although Meredith projects best as a ‘Y,' Fouch believes he could play either.

"He's sitting there now at about 235 pounds, which means by his first Christmas on campus he'd be in the 260-range and he could be a true, hand-on, pro-style tight end," Fouch said. "But, then again, he's athletic enough to flex out.

"That's the good thing about him – [Meredith] is the type of player that you can't really have too many of, just because of the versatility factor. He could do so many things and help you in so many ways."

Hanna has been taking advantage of that versatility since Meredith's sophomore season. Although Meredith is listed as a tight end, he lines up at wide receiver, H-back, and tight end for the Yellow Jackets.

"He represents, No. 1, that matchup problem because he is a big kid, he can run, and he's real strong," Fouch said. "So it's tough for DBs to match up size wise [and] it's tough for linebackers to matchup speed wise.

"No. 2, he really helps our run game, because he's a great blocker and in play-action that joker is always open."

This coming season, Hanna is going to need all the help it can get as it attempts to win its first state title in football. USA Today ranks Hanna's schedule as the toughest in the state of South Carolina.

"It's going to be difficult, but we ought to be in the position to make some noise in our region," Fouch said. "We have a lot of returning starters offensively, but a lot of new kids on defense. I'm very, very optimistic."

Due to all the new faces, Meredith has slowly been integrated into Hanna's defense at D-end this offseason, despite exclusively playing offense throughout his prep career.

"We're trying to take some of our offensive guys and fill them into our defense," Meredith said. "So I'll probably be playing some defense. Defensively, we're going to have to keep improving if we want to win a state championship."

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