Kaden Meredith knew his goal early on and has kept working to achieve it.
From the football fields of south Longview, Meredith grew up watching the long list of Lobo running backs play the position, his position, like they were, in his own words, super heroes.
Now, they’re his peers.
“It’s just an honor to be a Lobo running back and it’s something that I’ve always wanted,” Meredith said. “I had a big game last year and get on Facebook and I have a message from Fred Talley and I was just blown away. To me, that’s like having a pro text you or something, like a super hero.
“JaMycal (Hasty) and I follow each other online. I remember watching him when I was in the fifth grade and I just watched him run the ball in the league. It’s just crazy to have my name mentioned alongside them and an honor to play for this team at this position.”
Meredith, like most in the storied Lobo program, rose through the ranks of youth football. The Little Jaguars, his team in the third grade, struggled for first downs.
“We didn’t have a touchdown the entire season,” he said with a laugh.
But he knew even then that it was the beginning of the journey, one that ended with him walking down the tunnel at Lobo Stadium and taking his spot in the backfield.
“It’s very special to me to follow this path,” Meredith said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to be raised anywhere else than right here.
“It’s just different. People try to explain it but you can’t. You just have to live it. We come up together playing against one another and then you get to Lobo football. We all grew up watching these guys playing and just waiting for our turn to play. It means so much and it just a brotherhood all the way through.”
Lobo head coach John King noticed his skill early on and, on top of that, his work ethic.
“Kaden is a great kid, to start with, and is one of the best teammates that anyone can wish for,” King said. “He’s one of the better players on the team and one of the hardest workers on the team. All of those things, his talent, his skill, his worth ethic, his character, they all correlate.
“Early on, you could see the speed, the skill and he quickly developed the toughness that it takes to be a tailback. He dreamed it and he’s lived it from those early days to where he is now.”
Meredith’s freshman numbers were mind-boggling, even for subvarsity standards. But then, as a sophomore, his role changed once he reached the varsity team behind the duo of Keilyn Williams and Jessie Anderson.
That’s when he learned patience.
“That year, both of them helped me so much and I still talk to Jessie a lot,” Meredith said. “I knew it was going to be my turn after that season so I just tried to learn as much as I could that entire year and tried to get as many reps in practice as I could.”
He made the most of those opportunities as well. King rattled off several plays — a long touchdown run in a big district road win over Rockwall and a kickoff return touchdown against Amarillo Tascosa in the playoffs.
But more than that, he watched and learned and waited.
“He’s done a lot of impressive things on the field but he did as a sophomore, to me, was so impressive as a coach,” King said. “He didn’t get the playing time that he wanted or probably deserved but he didn’t just sit back there and tune out.
“He watched, he listened and he learned from everything that we did. By midseason, he knew everything he needed to at his position and when he got his opportunities, you better believe he made the most of it.”
Meredith finished with a clip of nine yards per carry with 11 touchdowns in 72 touches as a sophomore.
He matched that mark when it was his time in 2019 with 1,646 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. He said he tries to pick up a little bit of everything when watching other running backs and sees himself as a one-cut guy that can slip a tackle then go.
“All the guy needs is a crease,” King said.
With a number of former Lobos to look up to, Meredith described himself as a self-motivator and tries to push himself as much as possible.
“I want to push myself in everything I do,” he said. “If it’s bad, I can do better. If it’s good, I can do better. I just try to hold myself to a standard, knowing what I can do and when I don’t, it pushes me even more.”
The fraternity of Lobo running backs have all followed a similar path and Meredith is proud to be on the same journey.
“Growing up, it all seemed so far away,” Meredith said. “Now, it’s here and it’s bittersweet but the journey has been special and is not over yet.
“Far from it.”
Longview visits Marshall tonight. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Maverick Stadium.