By Ken Lay
Seven area football players were named Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Finalists recently.
The award honors the top athletes in the state’s eight classifications. It is given to the top back and lineman in each class.
The state also recognizes one kicker but no local kickers reached the final round this year.
The Knoxville Area will have at least one 2016 Mr. Football award winner as Catholic has a pair of nominees in the Class 4A Back category.
Wide receiver/defensive back Amari Rodgers, who won the award last season en route to leading the Irish to a 2015 State Championship, is a finalist again as his teammate Chase Kuerschen, who recently concluded a stellar prep career at Catholic.
Irish offensive lineman Cade Mays was named a finalist along with his teammates. He was also a finalist in 2015.
In Class 5A, Oak Ridge senior wide receiver Tee Higgins will have a chance to win Class 5A Back of the Year Honors for a second consecutive campaign. Higgins and Rodgers are both committed to Clemson.
In Class 3A, the Alcoa Tornadoes are looking for another State Championship and junior wide receiver Tykee Ogle-Kellogg was named a finalist
Austin-East quarterback Darius Harper was named a finalist in Class 2A.
Maryville’s T.D. Blackmon, who won the award in 2015, is a finalist again. He’s an impact player for the Rebels, who are in the midst of another deep postseason run.
The Mr. Football winners will be announced on Monday, Nov. 28 at a luncheon at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
Mr. Football candidates are chosen based on on-field performance during the regular season, academic achievement and character.