Features | Friday Night Drive

After banner basketball season, WW South’s Braylen Meredith has big expectations on football field this fall

Tigers’ 6-foot-5 senior receiver is a big target for team breaking in two new QBs

Wheaton Warrenville South’s Braylen Meredith makes a catch during a 7 on 7 tournament at St. Charles North High School on Thursday, June 30, 2022.

ST. CHARLES – Between his lanky 6-foot-5 frame and flowing curly hair peeking out from under his helmet, Braylen Meredith was hard to miss at a recent 7-on-7 in St. Charles.

He’s a good guy to have for a team breaking in two new quarterbacks.

Meredith and Wheaton Warrenville South were in action June 30 at the Fox Valley 7-on-7 at St. Charles North. The Tigers reached the finals of the event, taking second to York.

“Just trying to get some reps in, get comfortable in the offense, make some plays,” Meredith said. “To be honest, we’re looking pretty decent right now.”

The Tigers have only three to four starters returning on offense from last year’s team that went 5-4 in the regular season and lost to Brother Rice in a 27-26 first-round playoff thriller.

There is leadership at receiver in Meredith and Colin Moore, both seniors. WW South coach Sean Norris said both have been great leaders, and Meredith clearly has a frame conducive to the passing game. Meredith last school year was a starter on WW South’s basketball team that went 32-3 and reached its first sectional final since 1981. He could be poised for a big year on the football field.

“Obviously his length makes him a special receiver as well as his athleticism – basketball and football he has excelled at both of those,” Norris said. “That athleticism, coming from a basketball court, he knows how to position himself in those open spaces. He does a really great job of that. We have challenged him to really take on a leadership role on the offense and he has responded. We’re expecting him to have a great season.”

Meredith said he has worked in the offseason to get bigger, faster and stronger, and has added about 10 pounds to a 180-pound frame. He has no scholarship offers yet, although Iowa, Missouri and Dayton are among the schools that have shown interest.

He played mostly outside receiver last season, but said he’s been moved to the Y tight end position this offseason.

“I’m going to be more of a hybrid outside receiver,” Meredith said. “Hopefully it means more balls, more balls over the middle, more targets my way.”

Wheaton Warrenville South quarterback James Sok passes the ball during a 7 on 7 tournament at St. Charles North High School on Thursday, June 30, 2022.

With the graduation of last year’s starter, Matt Sommerdyke, senior James Sok and junior Brahm Rozanski are vying for the starting quarterback job. Junior Matt Crider, who played varsity as a sophomore, and seniors Grant Rylander and Jake Vozza are all back at running back.

“The new guys, they’re learning, they’re making strides game by game, getting better,” Meredith said. “They can only improve and I have faith in them.”

Norris said defensively WW South also has about three to four starters back, so they’re younger experience-wise, but he likes how this senior class competes. The Tigers’ theme this year is “Hungry for More,” and Norris said they’ve responded.

“This senior class, they have a great camaraderie, a great spirit about them,” Norris said. “They’ve loved Tiger football for a long time and they’re a selfless group. They’ve done a good job at every level of learning the playbook, lifting weights. I look forward to seeing how these guys come together and grow over the summer and come together as a unit.”

The Tigers’ showing in St. Charles was a good start, less than two months removed from their season opener against Simeon.

“This for us was an opportunity to compete,” Norris said. “It was great to see how our guys responded to situations. That was the most important thing was to compete and get better in the passing game. Great for our younger quarterbacks and receivers and defensive guys to get reps in the passing game.”