Meredith flips to Tennessee

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With just three scholarship tight ends set to return to Tennessee next season, the coaching staff made signing one more talent to add to the fold a priority before National Signing Day.

Their sticktoitiveness proved productive as Justin Meredith flipped his verbal commitment to Tennessee on Saturday afternoon.

Meredith put the news out there on his Facebook page: "For everyone that doesn't already know, I am going to Tennessee. Go Vols."

The T.L. Hanna High School product from Anderson, S.C., had been committed to the North Carolina Tar Heels since June 1. But, the possible sanctions coming from the NCAA and the firing of head coach Butch Davis left Meredith and other commitments twisting in the wind.

The 6-foot-5, 218-pounder is now the fourth member of Tennessee's 2012 class to have been formerly committed elsewhere, joining Daniel Gray, Dalton Santos and Trent Taylor. ranks him as the 17th best tight end in the country and a three-star prospect.

"Meredith is a tight end with wide-receiver-like hands," national recruiting analyst Chad Simmons said. "Anything within reach, he usually snatches out of the air. He can be flexed out like a wide receiver as well because of his size and athleticism.

"He is fluid and a real weapon inside the red zone. He still needs to bulk up, add weight and get stronger as a blocker. He is more of the hybrid tight end right now that is a better receiver. He has the toughness, just needs size."

Meredith was visited this week by Tennessee coach Derek Dooley and recruiting coordinator Terry Joseph. Whether Eric Russell will be Meredith's tight ends coach once he gets to Knoxville remains to be seen but the stability around the program is a plus.

Momentum started to shift in the Big Orange's favor in the recruitment of the South Carolina native after Meredith unofficially visited for a game at Neyland Stadium before coming back as an official visitor to see the Vols take on Vanderbilt in late November.

He will join rising senior Mychal Rivera and sophomores Brendan Downs and Cameron Clear as the tight ends on the Vol roster.

Rivera was Tennessee's second-leading receiver in 2011, hauling in 29 balls for 344 yards and a touchdown. Clear and Downs combined for four catches for 38 yards.

A perk to tight ends in the recruiting world for Tennessee is that not only does it have its own position coach but both Dooley (Miami Dolphins) and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney (St. Louis Rams) have NFL experience teaching the position.

Meredith is currently preparing with his South Carolina teammates in preparation for the 75th Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, which will be played at Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg, S.C., on Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. (TV: ESPN3).

He is also on the roster to compete in the Under Amour All-America game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Jan. 5 at 7:30 p.m.

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