Anderson (SC) T.L. Hanna tight end Justin Meredith is one of the Palmetto State's top prospects in the class of 2012, and that status was validated on Wednesday when he picked up his first verbal scholarship offer from in-state program South Carolina, his first Division I tender, as reported yesterday afternoon by GamecockCentral.com.
"This morning, probably around eleven o' clock I got a call from my dad to go to Coach (Kenya) Fouch's office and I went down and Coach Fouch said they had offered," the 6-foot-5, 210-pounder told GamecockCentral.com. "Of course I was excited."
Meredith was asked to list what he knew about the South Carolina program.
"Location, that would have to be a big one," he said. "It is about two hours away which is kind of close enough to home but also far enough away from home. The coaching staff, of course; Steve Spurrier is well-respected with everybody. They have good academics and they play in the SEC."
With hometown Anderson being so close to USC's upstate rival, it makes sense that Meredith grew up rooting for the Clemson Tigers.
"I grew up a Clemson fan," he said. "We're twenty minutes away from Clemson and when I was younger we had season tickets and everything. In the recruiting process, it (being a fan) doesn't really matter. I'm looking at it with open eyes because I'm looking for the best fit."
Meredith traveled to Columbia earlier this summer for a team passing camp, but did not get a chance to get a closer look at USC's facilities or speak with the coaching staff, including upstate recruiter Shawn Elliott. That will change this weekend.
"I'm going the South Carolina/Georgia game this Saturday. The next Saturday, I'm going to the Georgia/Arkansas game. I talked with Coach (Burton) Burns at Alabama yesterday and I want to go there and to Clemson later in the season."
The South Carolina native discussed his best attributes as a prospect.
"I'm someone who can do a little bit of everything," he said. "I can stretch the field, but I will line up on the line and block a d-end or come back as a fullback and be a lead blocker. We barely ever throw the ball, so I have two catches with one touchdown (so far this season). They use me a lot as a lead blocker, motion me into the backfield. I hope as the season goes on we can start airing it out more, but we've been able to run and not really had to throw."
Meredith, who sports a 35-inch vertical leap and has been timed as fast a 4.58 seconds in the forty-yard dash, has an early lead group of four schools, with another also lurking.
"In no particular order at all, it's Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, and (South) Carolina," he said. "And NC State."
The junior is planning on taking his time making a choice.
"I'm not in any rush to make a decision right now," he said. "Probably sometime my senior year, I'm just kind of sitting back. Now that I've got the first one (offer), I'm hoping some more come and then I will just see where it goes from there. I don't want to have to get into a situation where I would have to decommit. I want to really know when I decide."
A few different factors will play in to the decision-making process for Meredith.
"Academics is a big one, location is a big one, and then the style of offense," he said. "I'm not going to go to a school that runs an offense that doesn't use their tight end. My dream growing up is to play in the SEC. One of the biggest things I'm looking for is the coaching staff and how they using tight ends and if they produce tight ends that go to the NFL."