Prep notebook: South Pittsburg football stars join Chattanooga area’s list of college signees

Staff photo by Robin Rudd / South Pittsburg's A.J. Wallace runs with the ball after a catch during a Sept. 29 home game against Middle Tennessee Christian. Wallace signed Wednesday with Arkansas State.
Staff photo by Robin Rudd / South Pittsburg's A.J. Wallace runs with the ball after a catch during a Sept. 29 home game against Middle Tennessee Christian. Wallace signed Wednesday with Arkansas State.

A pair of all-state performers who helped the South Pittsburg High School football program win its seventh state championship last fall followed through on previous college commitments by signing Wednesday.

Pirates receiver AJ Wallace, who was a member of the preseason Times Free Press Dynamite (Baker's) Dozen as a senior, signed with Arkansas State, while linebacker Jamarion Farrior, a Tennessee Mr. Football semifinalist and the TSSAA Class 1A BlueCross Bowl MVP, signed with Mars Hill.

Wallace is the 12th member of the Dynamite Dozen to sign with a program that competes in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest level of NCAA Division I.

Arkansas State, led by former University of Tennessee head coach Butch Jones since 2021, finished 6-7 last season after a two-point loss to Northern Illinois at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama.

"Two things I was looking for in a college was the education aspect, since I want to follow in my mother's footsteps and be an engineer, and hospitality," said Wallace, who visited the Jonesboro campus last weekend and said he was told he would likely play safety for the Red Wolves.

"They have a great engineering program, and when I got to spend some time with their other players and Coach Jones, it felt like a family atmosphere. I really liked everything about it.

"Whatever they want me to do to help the team, I'll do. They told me they like me at safety because I'm lanky, I can cover a lot of ground fast and I like contact."

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Wallace finished last season with 34 catches for 722 yards and eight touchdowns, and he made 56 tackles at safety. He also considered offers from Kennesaw State -- making its transition to FBS competition -- and Football Championship Subdivision members Austin Peay and Murray State, among others.

Farrior ranked among the Chattanooga area's leading tacklers this past season with 141 total, including 33 for loss and 5.5 sacks.

Mars Hill is an NCAA Division II program located in Mars Hill, North Carolina, near Asheville. Farrior was also being recruited by FCS and Southern Conference member East Tennessee State University, Division III's Maryville College and NAIA program Bethel College.

In the BlueCross Bowl state title game, Farrior was named MVP after rushing 29 times for 160 yards and both of South Pittsburg's touchdowns, and he also led the defense with five tackles.

"When I was on my visit (to Mars Hill), I was told they want me to play middle linebacker but they also like my potential as a short-yardage back because I'm so physical," said the 6-foot Farrior, who has added 15 pounds since the season ended and now weighs 215. "I definitely feel like I can go in there and step up to any challenge.

"The coaches look like they enjoy their job, and they made it feel like home when I visited the campus because they showed me a lot of love. That's a long way to go from home, so you don't want to feel stranded when you go somewhere, and they let me know they would look after me."

  photo  Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / South Pittsburg's Jamarion Farrior runs the ball during the TSSAA Class 1A BlueCross Bowl state championship game against McKenzie on Dec. 1 at Finley Stadium. Farrior signed Wednesday with Mars Hill.

CCS star Jermaine Stinson in with Army

Chattanooga Christian School senior Jermaine Stinson was the football equivalent of a Swiss army knife for the TSSAA Division II-AA program last fall. The 6-2, 205-pounder hardly ever came off the field while generating more than 1,000 all-purpose yards, 13 touchdowns, 60 tackles, three interceptions and 10 tackles for loss for the Chargers.

Now his versatility and achievements on the gridiron will allow him to continue his athletic career at Army, with Stinson playing for the Black Knights while getting a service academy education in West Point, New York.

"This day means everything to me," said Stinson, who is also a member of the basketball and track and field teams at CCS. "To be able to see my hard work pay off means the world to me. My family is who I do this for, and of course God. But I do this and play this hard for my parents, who have sacrificed a lot for me."

Stinson had the city's biggest game for a wide receiver this past season with 208 yards and three touchdowns in a memorable senior night win over Notre Dame. On his last score, he broke two tackles and juked another defender to turn a screen pass into an 80-yard touchdown.

That explosiveness led Army to recruit Stinson to play a position he has not started at since middle school. The Black Knights' interest in signing him came after "Scoop" Carter reached out to the Army staff and director of player personnel Austin Leake.

"The coaches at West Point see me thriving at the running back position," Stinson said. "They use their running backs in a hybrid role where they can also move me out to play wide receiver. I always believed when I get the ball in my hands I can do great things, so I am really excited."

Army is entering its 11th season under coach Jeff Monken but first in the American Athletic Conference after spending the past two decades as an FBS independent. Stinson also had offers from FCS programs Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech.

  photo  Staff file photo by Matt Hamilton / Chattanooga Christian football star Jermaine Stinson will play on the next level with the Army Black Knights.

Heritage's Jay Williams is Bama bound

Heritage long snapper Jay Williams is joining Alabama as a preferred walk-on after ranking high nationally at the position.

Williams (6-0, 190) was ranked the No. 3 long snapper in the country by Kohl's Professional Camps for special teams.

In a 2023 release announcing its All-American team, Kohl's said Williams "has finished top 5 in the country at every Kohl's Snapping Camp he has attended. He recently competed at the Kohl's National Scholarship Camp against the top long snappers in the country and finished with the third-highest charting score in the 2024 class. Williams rips the ball with power, clean rotation and precise placement. He has the talent to play for any team in the country."

Compiled by Stephen Hargis, Patrick MacCoon and Lindsey Young. Contact them at



Boyd Buchanan: Brodie Johnston, Vanderbilt; Cooper Jones, Lincoln Memorial; Jonathan Tinker, Bryan College.

Howard: Camron James, Mississippi Valley State.

Sale Creek: Brayden Grimes, Brevard.

Signal Mountain: Ben Timblin, Wofford.


Bradley Central: Grace Phillips, Tennessee Wesleyan.

Chattanooga Christian: Dre Jackson, Lees-McRae; Nick Long, Chattanooga State.

Silverdale Baptist: Taylor Bledsoe, Maryville.


Baylor: Dom Clifford, Pace; Josh Hampton, Colgate; Amari Jefferson, Alabama; Max LeBlanc, Ohio State; Whit Muschamp, Vanderbilt.

Boyd Buchanan: P.J. Donaldson, Kentucky Wesleyan; Timothy Jones, Tennessee Tech.

Bradley Central: Boo Carter, Tennessee; Marcus Goree, Tennessee; Kaleb Martin, Miami (Ohio); Tito Williams, Northwestern.

Calhoun: Christian Bell, University of the Cumberlands.

Chattanooga Christian: Da'rell Brown, Sewanee; Jermaine Stinson, Army; Darrius Talley, Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College.

Coahulla Creek: Nate Tilley, Reinhardt.

East Hamilton: Kireese Willis, Carson-Newman.

Hixson: KoKo Kendricks, UVA-Wise.

LaFayette: AJ Thompson, Reinhardt.

Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe: Grayden Johnson, Berry.

McCallie: Marcellus Barnes, Syracuse; Nathan Berthiaume, Dickinson; Olivier Camerlain, Lafayette College; Carson Coffman, Davidson; Paul-Marie Dogui, Colgate; Carson Gentle, Tennessee; Ja'Von McMahan, UT Martin; Jay St-Hilaire, Vanderbilt.

Notre Dame: Justin Baker and Tay Carter, UVA-Wise.

Ooltewah: Kobe Baldwin, Union College; Antonio Hunter, Maryville.

Red Bank: Malik Rizer, Kentucky Wesleyan; Kobe Smith, Duke.

South Pittsburg: Martavious Collins, UTEP; Jamarion Farrior, Mars Hill; AJ Wallace, Arkansas State.

Walker Valley: Tyran Forte, Kentucky State.


Baylor: Mattie Nall, UTC; Guillaume Paquette, Eastern Michigan.

Boyd Buchanan: Madison Butler, Milligan; Gavin Greeson, Truett McConnell.


Baylor: Lauren Butt, Westminster University.

Boyd Buchanan: Cole Foster, University of the Cumberlands; Noah Humble, Tiffin University.


Baylor: Abby Millwood, Central Oklahoma; Mary Evelyn Pearce, North Carolina; Autumn Phillips, Tennessee.


Boyd Buchanan: Phillip Collins, Trevecca Nazarene; Mia Cutler, Berry; Lily Daniel, Freed-Hardeman.

Chattanooga Christian: Tess Duble , Covenant.


Boyd Buchanan: Kiley Elliot, Tennessee Tech; Gracie Petty and Brooke Watson, Chattanooga State.


Baylor: Jace Sanford, Lee.


Chattanooga Christian: Jonathan Gain, Bryan College.


Cleveland: Logan Fowler, Air Force; Bella Harris, William Penn University.

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