Projecting the Future: Justin Meredith

JUSTIN MEREDITH, 6-5, 220 TE ANDERSON, S.C. [T.L. HANNA HS]

Ratings: Rivals 3* No. 13 tight end, Scout 3* No. 17 tight end, ESPN 4* No. 6 tight end, 247 3* No. 57 tight end. Chose UT over North Carolina, Clemson, Auburn, Cincinnati, Duke, Illinois, Mississippi State, NC State, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest.

STRENGTHS: First off, Meredith is an early enrollee, which helped Brendan Downs last year for UT. Meredith is likely more ready than Downs coming into school, despite not playing much tight end for his high school last year and focusing mostly on defense which is where they needed him. He has incredible speed [4.58] for his size, and he is also blessed with incredibly soft hands. He appears to run crisp routes on film, and he is a big target for quarterbacks. He was highly coveted for the Vols and appears to possess the potential to come in and help immediately, though he may be able to redshirt.

NEEDS WORK: I can't find much on film that I dislike, though it is a bit troublesome that he'll be rusty at the position after playing mostly defense as a high school senior. He isn't the strongest player, and several services say he needs a lot of work blocking. The Vols desperately need him to improve at blocking before he is sent onto the field.

CREDENTIALS: After a long commitment to North Carolina, he looked around and ultimately chose the Vols after Butch Davis and Everett Withers weren't retained. He was a participant in the Under Armour All-American Game, where he briefly played though he was injured. He also played in the Shrine Bowl. As a junior, he had 24 catches for 600 yards and three touchdowns. He played mostly defensive end for Hanna this past season. He finished with 42 tackles and eight tackles for a loss and made All-District.

OPTIMISTIC CEILING: Tennessee really targeted two tight ends from the outset -- Meredith and Alabama commitment Kurt Frietag. The Vols believe both will be all-conference type talents, and Meredith certainly has the frame to weigh 240-250, which UT wants. He is a terrific target, and once he has a year or two in UT's weight program, he is going to be a great player for the Vols. He has ideal height and hands, and he will be a nice get for UT. The extra time in the weight room prior to his freshman season with help greatly, too.

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