Western Mustang Eddie Meredith’s long and winding road to the Saskatchewan Roughriders

It’s both a dream and a goal for just about anyone to lose weight. Get back into that pair of jeans you used to wear in high school that is hanging in the back of the closet. The ones you just can’t bear to give away. Someday, right?

Eddie Meredith had the opposite problem.

He had jeans in the back of his closet that his was trying to fit into again, only they were quite a few sizes too big.

Meredith had gone from being a 6’6″, 315-pound offensive lineman for the Western Mustangs to a svelt 6’6″, 260.

“I was never below 260,” says Meredith. “I heard some number that I was down to 220 and I’m just trying to picture what that would look like. It would have been pretty skinny. I’m a big guy.”

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It wasn’t anything Meredith intended to have happen. His path in life seemed to be moving away from the game of football. He had gone far enough away from it to be sitting in an office, working a job and wondering whether he would ever play the game again.

After completing the 2015 season with the Western Mustangs, Meredith considered the fact that it was time to put a clear focus on his education. Not long after, he had a chance to go to South America, although the experience didn’t go quite as planned. That’s where his weight dropped.

“Things kind of got ugly. I’m not going to go into any great detail, but a lot of weight was lost and the academic program was a little messy, so I didn’t get to play last year.”

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His health came back and thanks to an appetite fit for an O-lineman, so did the pounds and when the Roughriders called to see whether he would come and work out for them, Meredith was ready.

He was also still 6’6″.

Size is certainly an asset at his position, but Meredith was happy with his performance in front of the Roughriders’ staff and his efforts were rewarded when they selected him in the fourth round of the 2017 CFL draft.

Instantly, Meredith’s life turned onto a new road.

He had been to the west end of the Prairies when the Western Mustangs played in Calgary on a frosty field in the 2013 Mitchell Bowl, suffering their only loss of that season, 44-3 at the hands of the Dinos. Football had taken Meredith from the NCAA (at that time) to the CIS, but he had never been to Saskatchewan.

Fortunately, as luck or even fate might have it, an assignment Meredith did at Western ended up being helpful.

“I did a class project in a politics class… so I knew the basics. I knew Brad Wall and I knew that the body flowed through Saskatoon and Regina. It’s a beautiful province.”

It’s one that he will be spending a great deal of time in.

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The organization is in the middle of a rebuild under Chris Jones, who led the Edmonton Eskimos to a Grey Cup in 2015 and then moved East to take the reins of the ‘Riders, who were coming off a 3-15 season. Improvement came in a very small dose last year as Saskatchewan wound up just two wins better, but they had come in and changed so many faces and schemes, that it couldn’t help but lead to some bumps along the road.

Meredith has been away from the game for a year, but isn’t worried. He didn’t start playing football until Grade 10 and was hooked almost from the minute he stepped onto the field.

“The first coach I had was a guy named Glen Beardsley and he was one of those infectious personality coaches and he instilled an immediate love of the game and the more I played, the more I enjoyed the team component and the camaraderie.”

As winding as the road has been to get him from Beardsley and the Metro Toronto Wildcats to the CFL Draft, it all seems to make perfect sense.

There was the year and a bit at Boston College, where playing time was tough to get. That led Meredith to Western which he calls, “a perfect fit”, giving him a chance to start and learn the position through great coaching and big-game experience.

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Now, the next frontier is cracking Saskatchewan’s roster.

“I’m really excited to get out to Regina and get working with their strength and conditioning coach and get into the film and learn the offence, learn the technique and shake some of the rust off. I’m excited to meet my teammates and work toward an exciting 2017 season.”