When looking at Dickson County linebacker Gavin Meadows yesterday as he signed to play college football, one wouldn’t notice his most recent addition unless searching very closely.
Written into his right forearm, Meadows has Old English script with initials- those of his late grandfather- and Roman numerals- the date of his death.
“My grandfather had a big impact on my life,” Meadows said. “About two years ago, he passed away on November 28, 2018. He means everything to me, so I just wanted to make sure he’s a part of me for life.”
Ironically, the tattoo is inked into the same arm Meadows used to sign his National Letter of Intent to play football for Cumberland University, forever linking the linebacker’s past with his future.
Cumberland is located in Lebanon, Tennessee, just an hour-and-a-half drive east on Interstate 40.
To some, Lebanon may be unfamiliar territory. But for Meadows- a Lebanon native- it feels like home.
“I moved to Dickson County about four years ago,” Meadows said. “It’s been a struggle, adversity after adversity. I just battled through it. I chose Cumberland because they made me feel right at home. It’s in my hometown. I just liked the vibe and how they made me feel as a person and a player.”
Through Meadows’ time at Dickson County, the Cougars have had two different head coaches.
Now, after the resignation of Randy Murphree on January 7, they’re searching for the third in four seasons.
Throughout that time, Meadows has been a mainstay in the Cougars’ program.
“It meant a lot,” Meadows said of his commitment, which remained in spite of the changes. “It showed that they could count on me in the good times and the bad times. I proved myself.”
That proof extended through Meadows’ senior year, which he said he played for his late grandfather. Still, the All-County linebacker ended with only seven offers.
And even those came after plenty of persistence.
“The naysayers, they pushed me to who I am today,” Meadows said. “It just made me push harder and want it more.”
The persistence expanded to Twitter, as Meadows messaged college coaches and scouts, two to three times a day at times.
“I wanted it bad, man,” Meadows said with a grin. “Several coaches, there’s no telling how many I’ve sent my film.”
Now, after years of remaining in Dickson despite instability, Meadows will be part of a Phoenix program that has gained some sense of balance under third-year head coach Tim Mathis.
And he’ll have a reminder of his family every step of the way.
“It means everything,” Meadows said of the mark. “This whole college football journey, I wanted to make sure I can always look down and see him watch me play.”