Season Wrap-Up: Justin Meredith

After seeing – at most – ten defensive snaps prior to this season, North Carolina pledge Justin Meredith was converted almost exclusively to a defensive player for his senior campaign.

"We lost nine starters on defense from the year before and seven of them are college football players now," Anderson (S.C.) Hanna head football coach Kenya Fouch said. "With that said, we really had to make a decision on whether [Meredith] could help us more on one side or the other, and we decided to make him a primary defensive player. He ended up playing both sides some, plus he was on all the special teams. He rarely came off the field."

Meredith, a 6-foot-5, 220-pounder, ended up lining up at defensive end and linebacker on defense and tight end and wide receiver on offense.

"He's very versatile," Fouch said. "He has the body and the skill set to make an impact in a lot of different places, so we tried to utilize that in a lot of different ways.

"And plus, he's a team player. He never questioned it. He never asked. We just said, ‘Look, this is something we need you to do for us.' And he said, ‘Whatever. That's fine. Just tell me what to do and I'll do whatever.'"

By season's end, Meredith led the team with eight tackles for loss and was second on the team in sacks with three. He also accumulated 42 total tackles.

Offensively, he was used primarily as an extra blocker in Hanna's run dominant offense.

"He came in and opened a lot of holes and made it possible for us to get going in the run game," Fouch said.

When Meredith and his teammates exited Anderson (S.C.) Westside's field following their regular season finale victory, it wasn't yet known if Hanna was playoff-bound. The 36-6 win put Hanna in a three-way tie for the final playoff spot in the Class 4A Division II playoffs with the tie breaker being opponent wins. A few hours later, it was discovered that a couple of upsets that night allowed Florence (S.C.) South to edge Hanna, 58 opponent wins to 54.

"There were nine games where we needed a certain team to win for us to get in," Fouch said. "And seven of those nine [teams] won and the other two were upsets."

In spite of the letdown, Fouch said Hanna doesn't have a right to be mad or frustrated considering its 3-8 record.

"We understand that all we have to do is finish in a certain place in the region and we'll get in and don't have to count [opponent wins]," Fouch said. "All we had to do was win one more game and we would have gotten in."

In its defense, Hanna played one of the more difficult schedules in South Carolina. Its slate included Spartanburg (S.C.) Boiling Springs, Roebuck (S.C.) Dorman, Greenwood (S.C.), and Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes – all losses.

With his senior football season over, Meredith's focus is finalizing all that is necessary for his December graduation and January enrollment. He has, though, found time to make several trips to Tennessee, including an official visit this past weekend.

"The last time I spoke to him, which was last week, he seemed to be a firm UNC commit," Fouch said. "I don't know if he's ever wavered on that. He has a great family that asks us questions when they have questions, but they don't have questions very often. So I just let them handle everything and I'm not nearly as involved in his [recruitment] as other kids who may not quite have the support system."

Fouch, who confirmed that Meredith will officially visit UNC this weekend with his family, doesn't believe a coaching change would alter Meredith's commitment status.

"I do know that he is very close to Coach Mo' [and] that Coach Mo' has done a great job of recruiting him," Fouch said. "But [Meredith] has seemed to have really fallen in love with the University of North Carolina. Obviously, Coach Mo' played a big part in that, but [Meredith] just seems to like the school. So I don't know if a coaching change would change his mind on how he feels about the university."

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