With head coach Paul Johnson and the Yellow Jackets not knowing who will step up and take Jeremiah Attaochu’s place at defensive end, Tyler Merriweather is sitting back waiting to get his chance to get in the game.
Merriweather hasn’t made it to Atlanta yet, but he will be on campus ready to start his college career in June. I had a chance to speak with Tyler to find out a little about him and what kind of person and player he is.
The 6’3, 225 lb defensive lineman grew up the younger of two children in the small town of Forkland, Al., population 632 (2012). He played High School football at Demopolis High School in Forkland, Alabama, which is 102 miles southwest of Birmingham. During Tyler’s freshman year of high school, he decided to give up basketball and focus strictly on football.
I asked Tyler how he ended up coming to Tech and he stated during the recruiting process, he was researching Tech and the more Tech pursued him, the more he researched, saying he was impressed with the engineering program at Tech and that struck his interest more than any other school. He said he came to Tech for and unofficial visit in June and fell in love with the campus and coaches.
Even though Tyler isn’t on campus yet, there is a sense of urgency in this young man. He wants to break the cycle of people being satisfied with just being “average”. Tyler says the recruits that are coming in this year want to be more than a six or seven win team.
During our conversation, I asked Tyler what motivated him as a player.
“The man beside me on my team motivates me as a player.” he told me, “I hate to let others down, so I want to give my all for my brothers on the field, because if I let them down, I let the whole team down.”
As we were winding up with the interview, I asked Tyler if there was one thing he wanted people to know about him, what would it be.
“I want them to know that I’m humbly coming in as a freshman at Tech and I don’t see myself as a big shot. I plan on leading by example and I don’t plan on being shy because I‘m a freshman.” He continued, “If Tech needs leadership, then I am willing to do my best to step into that role. I plan on leaving a legacy here at Tech, not for personal accolades, but for team accomplishments.”
The most important question that I asked of Tyler was, what it would mean to him if he beat them, nasty ole dawgs about 90 minutes to the east.
“It would mean a lot to me, because I saw the last game and I was very disappointed, THWg!”
Scouts have raved about Merriweather’s strength and physicality, and in particular, his ability to get low on blocks and push back into the backfield. He’s got great quickness, but more than likely needs to develop his pass rush skills. Against the run, he is more than adequate, and could contribute very early on in his career.
A replacement for Attaochu? That’s going to be hard to do, but Ty Merriweather has the right attitude to give it his best shot.