Marquese Meadow sat in the bleachers of Friendship Collegiate’s gym in February, watching as the school honored 20 seniors with college football scholarships. He was one of a handful of juniors that envisioned themselves on the stage in the spring of 2014, a group that included standouts such as Jalen Tabor and Jonathan Haden. But those players had high-level offers. Meadow didn’t.

Meadow, the 6-foot-2, 300-pound defensive tackle, didn’t have to wait very long to find his suitors. He received his first scholarship offers from Akron and Eastern Michigan recently, and Maryland, Tennessee, Temple, Old Dominion, Ohio have shown interest, he said.

“I thought I was going to have to wait until the season started to get my first official offer,” Meadow said. “When I got it before the season, when I got it still during my 11th grade year, it felt kind of good.”

Meadow, who is getting recruited as a defensive tackle, said he “gained the weight he wanted to gain” this winter, after playing 20 pounds lighter last fall. Friendship Collegiate Coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim said that Meadow has among the most recruiting upside of any player on his talented roster, adding that even raw talents at the defensive tackle position are highly sought after by college recruiters.

“The d-line position just doesn’t have the depth [other positions have],” Abdul-Rahim said last week. “He’s on everyone’s radar.”

For now, Meadow will continue to watch for more letters. He understands there is a “shortage this year of defensive lineman” across the country, but he will be a two-way player in the fall. In addition to plugging the middle at defensive tackle, he will also see time at either offensive guard or tackle. He will be a key player to replace the absence of graduating offensive lineman Derwin Gray, who was on the stage this past February when he announced his official commitment to Maryland.

Meadow, who played his freshman season at Riverdale Baptist and his sophomore year at Ballou before transferring to Friendship last year, calls his current school a “baby college.”

“It’s eye opening,” Meadow said of watching the ceremony, in which several teammates chose Maryland. “It’s an experience. … that I want all my teammates and myself to feel, that you’ve made it.”

Related: Recruit Watch: Database of offers, commits