Summer college football camps are like the male version of beauty contests, but thankfully without the swimsuit competition. The one-day position camps give prospects a chance to catch college coaches' attention with how well they perform in agility and speed drills as well as their potential sometimes based mainly on the eyeball test.
The last three years have been among the most talent-rich in Chattanooga-area history, having produced 14 Football Bowl Subdivision signees, including six with Southeastern Conference programs. This year's group of rising seniors still has work to do to continue that trend, according to three college coaches who recruit this area.
One of those scouts summed it up by saying, "There are a handful of guys we know of that can play, but there are a lot more questions than definite prospects right now."
One every college coach agreed on is that Baylor's Rafael Gaglianone is legit. As a consensus national top-five kicker, Gaglianone got his first offer recently from North Carolina State and is being heavily recruited by LSU, Texas A&M, Hawaii, Arkansas, Clemson and Ohio State.
A Mr. Football finalist in his first year of varsity action, Gaglianone made 12 of 15 field-goal attempts, with one from 51 yards, another from 50 and three others from more than 40. He also put 98 percent of his kickoffs into or through the end zone.
Recruiters also will beat a path to Cleveland, East Hamilton, McCallie, Ooltewah, Ridgeland and Signal Mountain this fall because of multiple prospects at each of those schools.
Cleveland's passing combination of quarterback Austin Herink (6-foot-2, 220) and receiver/defensive back D.J. Jones (6-0, 185) can help each other draw interest, while East Hamilton will be a one-stop shopping destination for recruits on both sides of the ball.
Tre Herndon, a 6-1, 175-pound defensive back, is quickly becoming the Hurricanes' hottest prospect with offers from Middle Tennessee State, Northern Illinois, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Jacksonville State. He also impressed Vanderbilt coaches at the Commodores' camp with his ability to break on the ball quickly.
Hurricanes linebacker Austin Gatewood (6-1, 210) has the intangibles that come from being a coach's son, while on offense, tight end Bailey Lenoir (6-3, 220), quarterback Hunter Moore (6-0, 205) and offensive lineman Cordelle Sands (6-4, 320) also all benefit from having fathers who either played at the pro or big-time college level or who are coaches.
Ridgeland, which has turned out more signees than any area program over the last three years, has at least two others who likely will receive offers this year in tight end/defensive lineman Jermaine Conyers (6-3, 295) and safety Matthew Peterman (6-2, 180). Conyers already has offers from Indiana, MTSU, UTC, Western Kentucky, Georgia Southern and Georgia State, and Peterman is a ballhawk who has been impressive in a couple of camps already.
Signal Mountain has three sizable prospects in defensive linemen James McClellan (6-0, 275) and Jacob Wright (6-4, 260) and running back/linebacker Diamez Franklin (6-1, 190).
McCallie lineman Cameron Walker (6-5, 250) and defensive back C.J. Fritz (5-11, 170) are only just now beginning to grab recruiters' attention, while Ooltewah quarterback Brody Binder (6-2, 210), running back Desmond Pittman (5-10, 230) and receiver Mike Wiliams (6-1, 190) are known talents.
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.