Earlier this month, four-star safety Nehki Meredith named the Vols as the leader in his recruitment moving forward. He said at the time that his visit to Tennessee was “hands down” the best he’s had so far, and Tennessee’s coaching staff stood out to him in a big way.
I spoke with Meredith, who is one of the top safeties in the 2020 recruiting class, about his visit, his thoughts on Jeremy Pruitt and Tennessee’s staff, and his playing career in high school thus far. And he has some big expectations for Pruitt and company at Tennessee.
When Meredith spoke with me, he reiterated that his visit to Tennessee back on April 14th was unlike anything he had experienced before in his recruitment.
“I had never been recruited like that and had coaches show interest in me,” Meredith said of his unofficial visit to Tennessee. “It was like half of the coaching staff came up to me and talked to me. They knew me and had watched my film and said I was an exciting player to watch.
“They were all excited that I got down there and said they couldn’t wait for me to get down there. It was just little stuff like that.”
This isn’t Meredith’s first ever recruiting visit either. He’s been to Alabama, Penn State, Florida State, Virginia Tech, and other schools so far in his recruitment. Yet his visit to Tennessee has stood out at the best one thus far.
For Meredith, his trip to Tennessee was the first time he’s been on a visit since he was minted as a four-star by 247Sports. Those rankings currently have him as the No. 140 overall player and No. 5 safety in the 2020 class. Since he was given four-star status, Oklahoma State, TCU, Wisconsin, and Penn State have all expressed more interest in him.
And all of this has come after only his first year playing on the defensive side of the ball.
“Last year was my first year playing defense,” Meredith told me. “I was a receiver before that. My team needed me more on the defensive side of the ball, and I ended up having a good run this season.
“Defense is way better than offense for me. You get to talk more. There’s a lot of savage play on that field.”
Meredith’s film from his sophomore season shows off a surprisingly polished player not only considering he’s a kid who just finished his second year of high school football, but especially since last year marked the first time he had ever played on defense period.
“I like to run the alley,” Meredith said of his play on defense. “I like doing that the most, but I just happen to be good in coverage and making interceptions as well. I can do it all.”
In his first year as a safety, Meredith picked off five passes and returned one for a touchdown for Bishop Sullivan Catholic School in Virginia Beach. His play impressed Tennessee’s coaches enough for them to invite him over to Tennessee’s campus so they could give him an offer.
The Vols’ coaching staff may have been impressed with Meredith, but he was even more impressed with them. New head coach Jeremy Pruitt especially stood out to Meredith.
“From what he’s done in the past, he’s going to change the program around in a couple years and it will be a dynasty,” Meredith said of Pruitt. “I feel like Tennessee will be one of those teams in the playoffs. I feel like it’s going to be Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, and Tennessee could be that next team to take that next step.”
Meredith clearly thinks highly of Pruitt and his Tennessee staff, and that’s a sentiment that many other recruits share as well. The Vols already have a commitment from one four-star player in their 2020 class, and that’s from athlete Kristian Story.
Will Meredith give the Vols another four-star commit in the 2020 cycle? He’s not ready to shut down his recruitment just yet, but Tennessee is in a great spot for him. And UT’s coaches will be watching his junior year with anticipation.