Tennessee Titans Mr. Football award winners
Lineman: Josh Silvey (Greenback)
Back: Preston Rice (Wayne County)
Lineman: Alex Kirkendoll (Marion County)
Back: Cordarrian Richardson (Trezevant)
Lineman: Jacob Phillips (East Nashville)
Back: Tykee Kellogg (Alcoa)
Lineman: Cade Mays (Knoxville Catholic)
Back: Amari Rodgers (Knoxville Catholic)
Lineman: Trevis Hopper (Memphis Central)
Back: Tee Higgins (Oak Ridge)
Lineman: Aubrey Miller (Whitehaven)
Back: JaCoby Stevens (Oakland)
Lineman: Trey Smith (University School of Jackson)
Back: Eric Gray (Lausanne)
Lineman: Dorian Hopkins (Memphis University School)
Back: Ty Chandler (Montgomery Bell Academy)
Kicker of the Year: Jacob Smith (Siegel)
NASHVILLE — Alex Kirkendoll added the state's most prized individual high school football award to his list of accomplishments Monday afternoon when he was named Class 2A's Tennessee Titans Mr. Football lineman of the year.
Saturday, Marion County's senior linebacker will try to help bring back the biggest team prize when the Warriors take on Trezevant in a rematch of last year's state championship matchup.
Kirkendoll beat out teammate Hunter McClain for the Mr. Football award Monday and was the only winner of the Chattanooga area's four finalists. Besides McClain, Sequatchie County's Hunter Davenport was runner-up for Class 3A's back of the year and McCallie quarterback Robert Riddle was runner-up for Division II-AA back of the year.
"I was nervous the whole way up there, and my knees were shaking on the stage," Kirkendoll said. "When they called my name, I was stoked. It's a great honor. But to be honest, if Hunter had won I would've been just as excited, because either way Marion County was bringing home the award. It was more of a team honor."
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Kirkendoll, who was the defensive MVP of last year's state-title game, ranked among the area's leaders in tackles with 126 and had 11 for lost yardage, three sacks and two safeties in the regular season for a defense that allowed just four rushing touchdowns in 10 games.
He also has a 4.0 grade point average, is ranked No. 2 in his senior class and has scholarship offers from Tennessee Tech, Austin Peay and Illinois State. Coaches from Brown University will be in Jasper later this week to discuss Kirkendoll potentially continuing his career at the Ivy League program.
"The Mr. Football banquet is a great event to go to, but my main focus has always been on the state game," Kirkendoll added. "I would trade the Mr. Football trophy for that gold ball for winning state in a heartbeat. We've all got that one goal in mind."
Marion and Knoxville Catholic were the only two programs to have each of the two finalists for the same award. Catholic's Amari Rogers and Chase Kuerschen were finalists for 4A back of the year, with Rogers winning. Also, Catholic's Cade Mays won 4A lineman of the year.
This was the 32nd year of the Mr. Football awards, and more than 400 people, including the honorees, their families, coaches, school administrators and members of the media from across the state, attended the luncheon at the Titans Nissan Stadium.
The awards were presented to the top back and lineman in each of the eight classifications of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. The top kickers in the state were also recognized. There were three finalists in this category, regardless of their school's classification.
High school head coaches and members of the media nominated the finalists. A committee of statewide sports writers selected winners based on performance in the 2016 regular season. Academics and character were also taken into consideration.
Like Kirkendoll, the 5-11, 195-pound McClain is a three-year starter. He had 73 tackles, 10 for loss and three sacks this season and also compiled 1,087 offensive yards and 15 touchdowns.
Davenport, the first Mr. Football finalist in Sequatchie County history, was the only player in the state to be a semifinalist for both back and lineman awards in a classification. Although he did not make the cut in 3A's lineman category, the 6-2, 200-pounder amassed more than 1,100 total yards and 20 TDs on offense and also made 92 tackles, nine for loss and four forced fumbles.
Through the regular season, Riddle threw for 18 TDs and more than 2,400 yards.
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.