With summer camps in full swing, high school football players are making their final push to attract college recruiters before the season begins in two months.
The Chattanooga area is again blessed with talent, from Cleveland to Calhoun and all parts between, in both public and private schools. With that in mind, what follows (in alphabetical order) is a list of some of the top rising seniors (with height, weight and position in parentheses) and a closer look at their recruitment.
The Times Free Press will continue to update this list in the coming weeks as the season nears and the prestigious Dynamite Dozen is revealed. Take a look and let us know what you think.
Gio Davis, South Pittsburg (6-4, 280, DL)
After a breakout season last year in which he earned all-state honors and at times dominated the small-school competition, his size and strength brought offers from Tennessee, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Arizona State and Eastern Kentucky among others.
Jeremiah Flemmons, East Hamilton (6-4, 190, ATH)
He will likely be the Hurricanes' starting quarterback this season but is projected to play receiver at the next level. He already has offers from Army, Navy and Eastern Kentucky, but after attending last weekend's camp at Tennessee, bigger offers could be on the horizon. He was featured by Rivals.com earlier this week for having been one of the most impressive and versatile athletes competing at Tennessee.
Karson Gay, Boyd Buchanan (6-6, 230, TE)
A three-star prospect, he committed to Virginia in February, choosing the Cavaliers over Arkansas, BYU, Eastern Kentucky and Florida Atlantic. "Karson's work ethic is phenomenal," Buccaneers coach Jeremy Bosken said. "He wants to be the No. 1 tight end in the nation. He is very focused and driven. He can do it all: catch, block, and he is good in open space. Then you flip it around, and he is a leader in the locker room, on the field and in the classroom. He is a home run for Virginia."
Kendrick Kirby, Calhoun (6-3, 270, OL)
The three-year starter's recruitment took off after a strong junior season, including offers from Air Force, Arkansas State, Army, Memphis, Marshall and several Football Championship Subdivision schools. "Every offensive line coach that watched him loved his film," Calhoun coach Clay Stephenson said. "He's tough, smart and can pick up blitzes from any position. He's going to get more offers, but he got most of his before the camps opened. A big thing they like is he can play any position, and because he's so smart, that will help him in college."
Bridger Knee, Baylor (6-2, 250, DT)
Knee, who transferred to Baylor in January after helping his hometown Bowling Green High School win Kentucky's Class 5A state championship last fall, has committed to Army. "He has a fast motor and is a self-motivated kid," Red Raiders coach Phil Massey said. "Since he arrived he's fit in really well with our kids and became one of our leaders pretty quick. His mentality and toughness plus (the fact) he's a very athletic kid is what stands out, and he's only going to continue getting stronger."
Lashaun Lester, Chattooga (5-11, 198, RB)
He's being called one of Georgia high school football's best-kept secrets despite entering his final season with 3,548 career yards. That secret status is changing quickly, though, said Chattooga coach Shawn Peek — and especially after a spring game in which he scored twice and had 150 yards and two touchdowns on two touches. Lester, who Peek likens to former North Jackson and Alabama running back Ali Sharief, has offers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, as well as Youngstown State and several other FCS schools.
Solomon Locke, Christian Heritage (6-0, 195, RB/LB)
Lions coach Jay Poag said Locke's recruitment is "ready to blow up" after he shined at the ESPN Elite 300 Showcase in Charlotte, North Carolina, three weeks ago. Still ahead are camps at Clemson and Tennessee as well as "The Show," an invitation-only event at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. He is coming off a 1,000-yard season in nine games and averaged 10 yards per carry.
Trey McDonald, Baylor (6-4, 225, LB)
Already committed to Virginia, the three-star prospect has the size and athleticism to continue attracting the attention of other Power Five programs and move up the recruiting boards now that college camps are once again open.
Ray Morrison Northwest Whitfield (6-3, 180, WR)
The rangy Morrison had a breakthrough season as a junior with 915 yards and nine touchdowns on 54 receptions. Bruins coach Josh Robinson believes Morrison's recruitment will begin to take off after camp season, and he's getting heavy interest from Georgia State and Troy among others.
Kenzy Paul, McCallie (6-1, 195, WR)
Rated a three-star prospect, his recruitment began to pick up steam recently after he turned heads at a Tennessee camp, where the Canada native — who transferred to McCallie before last season — showed off a playmaking knack. He has offers from Cincinnati, Duke, Georgia Tech, Indiana and Vanderbilt.
Cole Speer, Calhoun (6-0, 180 WR/CB)
The move up in classification a year ago helped Speer's recruitment as the Yellow Jackets played games against elite programs Blessed Trinity and Cartersville, games in which Speer shined on both sides of the ball. After finishing with 11 touchdowns and 1,151 yards while averaging more than 20 yards per catch, he has several FCS offers — and Atlantic Coast Conference programs North Carolina State and Wake Forest are in the hunt.
Reco Trimble, Red Bank (6-0, 175, RB/DB)
Despite coming off a knee injury that cut his season short last year, Trimble is one of the fastest-rising prospects in the area, with offers from Arkansas, Boston College, Charlotte, Duke, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. His speed and versatility make him a candidate to play on either side of the ball.
Others to watch
Tito Boyd (Cleveland, RB/DB); Anderson Britton (Heritage, K); Chandler Brown (Gordon Lee, OL); Rowan Burdick (Chattooga, DB); Kaunyea Burgans (East Hamilton, WR); Cole Cavin (Trion, TE); Aaron Crowder (McCallie, LB); Kori Dumas (Ringgold, RB); Delmontae Gustus (Red Bank, DL): James Howard (McCallie, DL); Reginald Hunter (South Pittsburg, WR); Richard Hunter (South Pittsburg, QB); Taye Hutchins (Marion County, ATH); Spencer Jackson (Walker Valley, DB): DeAndre Kelly (South Pittsburg, RB/DB); Jacob Klein (Ridgeland, OL); Gage Leonard (Calhoun, RB/LB); Christian Lewis (Calhoun, QB); Christopher Lewis (Calhoun, LB); Michael McDade (North Murray, WR); Jayden Miller (McMinn County, QB); Landon Moore (Hixson, OL); Kaleb Park (Trion, OL); Ben Smith (Meigs County, LB); Quin Smith (Calhoun, WR/DB); Brody Swader (Dade County, ATH); DeQuan Tatum (Meigs County, DL); Christian Thomas (Christian Heritage, QB); Dustin Thomas (Cleveland, WR); Kyle White (Ringgold, DB); Cody Williams (Dade County, LB).