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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Notre Dame WR Target Tobias Merriweather Racing Toward Goals

June 9, 2021

Tobias Merriweather‍ grew up trying to catch his older sisters.

“I remember him trying to race his sisters when he was like five, six years old, passing out because they'd keep beating him,” says Dominique Merriweather, the father of Tobias and twin girls Dai’lyn and Jai’lyn, who are currently standout sprinters at the University of Oklahoma.

“There are a lot of athletic people in our family. It's kind of hard to do anything athletic and not be challenged to do it to your ultimate best.”

Tobias – a top wide receiver target in the Class of 2022 for several top programs, including Notre Dame, where he’ll take an official visit this weekend – has certainly looked at his sisters as role models.

“When I was younger, they always inspired me to want to go to college be like them,” he says. “I definitely look up to them and they have a lot of respect for me as well.”

And his father, who serves as the sprinter coach for the Union High School track team in Vancouver, Wash., has always been there with advice.

“My mantra is hard work is undefeated,” Mr. Merriweather says. “Success looks different, but I think that there are a lot of folks with talent who are questionable with their work ethic. I think the higher the level you want to compete, the more your work ethic comes into question.”

That’s particularly obvious to Mr. Merriweather when it comes to seeing NFL teams evaluate college prospects.

“Ultimately, they want to know how hard you work,” he says. “That's really the question that most coaches want to know is how much are you willing to sell out for the program regardless of what your measureables might be.

“If you're not emotionally and mentally into it, then you're wasting most professional coaches’ times.”

Another quality Mr. Merriweather sees as imperative for young athletes is being comfortable in their skin, something he believes his son certainly is.

“You just need to be comfortable with all of your quirkiness,” says Mr. Merriweather, noting when Tobias was younger, his arms and legs would be all over the place as he was going through significant growth spurts.

“I think just being comfortable in that skin and just trying to work hard and be better every day, I think that that's also helped him. So, when he gets on the field, it's just like, 'Hey, I do my thing. My ultimate goal is to help the team win and I'm going to do that the best way I know how and try to lead in addition to making plays.’ Tobias has been a good example to his teammates that way.”

Stats can serve as important measures of an athlete’s success, but they aren’t the most important metrics, according to Mr. Merriweather.

“Ultimately, the biggest stat is winning,” he says. “That's the greatest stat you can have. And all the greats are known for winning. Tom Brady wouldn't be Tom Brady if New England was losing. But when the stage gets big and the lights come on, it's like, 'Are you a winner or are you not? Michael Jordan, did you win? Or did you not? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, did you win or did you not win? Mike Tyson, did you win? Or did you not win?’

“The great ones are known because they know how to rise to the occasion and get that W. Stats are great, wonderful, but winning in sports is the ultimate goal.”

At the high school level, Tobias will often draw two or more defenders, which only opens things up for his teammates, allowing him to make valuable contributions toward that goal of winning even without touching the ball.

But his father still expects Tobias to make the most of the chances he does get.

“When the ball comes your way, you've got to take advantage of those opportunities and let everybody know you’re still the best player on the field,” he says. “Like my old coach would say, 'You've got to know when to go in the phone booth and put your cape on.'”

Tobias had a chance to witness how to apply that balance by watching his sisters.

“He saw the sacrifices that they made in order to rule the state of Washington for four years when it came to high school track and field,” his father says. “They were definitely the best sprinters during their time in the high school here. It paid off by them being able to go to college and continue their careers. I think it gave him something to look forward to.

“The best thing he probably learned from his sisters is being humble. I think Tobias was watching the way his sisters were. They were always the nicest people immediately before and immediately after competition. During competition, it was no holds barred.”

The siblings are each other’s biggest fans.

Technology has made that easier; whether it’s Tobias watching Dai’lyn and Jai’lyn’s races on the internet or the twins gathering friends around a computer screen to watch their brother’s games in the fall.

As Tobias looks to close out a successful high school career and chase collegiate success the way his sisters have, one question still remains; Who’s the fastest in the family right now?

Tobias certainly claims that title, but that’s not necessarily official.

“I don't think he's actually beat them yet, so technically, they're still the fastest,” Mr. Merriweather says.

Meanwhile, Tobias is quick to note, “Time’s don’t line,” he says. “They know. They definitely know.”

Tobias missed a chance to post official times on the track earlier this year, choosing to go out for basketball instead.

“Well, you know, maybe he just doesn't really want that smoke,” his father laughs.

In all seriousness, Mr. Merriweather was OK losing his top sprinter.

“As a dad, I try to support them where they are.  I don't pressure him to do anything that his heart isn't 100 percent into. It's just not worth it at that point. You're doing things for other people and that's when it becomes work and a job. He has the rest of his life to work for somebody else.”

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