Rutherford County has always been a hotbed for high school football, and the emergence of Trey Knox and Blackman High now adds even more talent to the landscape.
Those schools all have a number of candidates for our Rutherford County Offensive Player of the Year, and of course there are talents at other places within the county also.
Here’s a look at our top five offensive players heading into 2017. (Note: we don’t include offensive linemen on this list.)
8. Blake Watkins
Smyrna, Jr., running back, 5-10, 187
Watkins shows great straight-line speed, combined with balance and agility, blocking skills, and the ability to catch the football. Heading into his junior season, he’s already received a scholarship offer from Texas-San Antonio. Smyrna lists Watkins as a running back, but a glance at his highlight film shows his versatility elsewhere on offense, too.
6. Graham Hatcher
Eagleville, Sr., 6-0, 170, wide receiver
Graham Hatcher may not be a name that rolls off the tongue of mid-state football fans, but take a look at his play from last year. The senior is one of the area’s better deep threats, and he uses a patented stutter-step move to create separation from defenders, then, shows excellent ability to haul in one long toss after another on over-the-shoulder grabs. Hatcher can also make the shorter move-the-chains grabs and win contested balls also.
5. Lelan Wilhoite
Siegel, Sr., running back, 5-10, 185
“Versatility” should be Wilhoit’s middle name. The senior lines up from the tailback position and the slot on offense, and is a weapon as a punt returner. A couple of things make Wilhoit a special high school player. First, he’s a legitimate downfield threat and has even flashed the ability to catch deep balls. Second, he shows surprising physical ability for a player his size, and isn’t afraid to play through or initiate contact. Wilhoit transferred from Nashville Christian this summer. Rivals rates him as a three-star recruit and the No. 18 player in Tennessee for the Class of 2018.
3. Master Teague
Blackman, Sr., running back, 6-0, 210
Whatever you need from a running back, Master Teague can do it. Teague constantly moves his feet and takes an efficient north-south path, using his vision and ability to reverse field to make huge plays–he had a 94-yard touchdown run in 2016. Teague also flashes ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Rivals ranks him the No. 15 player in the state and gave him three stars as a recruit. The Ohio State commitment ran for over 2,000 yards and scored 24 TDs last year.
1. Trey Knox
Blackman, Jr., wide receiver, 6-5, 218
Knox is the No. 14 player in the Class of 2019 according to Rivals, and based on what we’ve seen of him this off-season, could move up from there. A big, strong player, one of Knox’s best attributes is using that strength to make contested catches and then to use his strength to shake tacklers and get extra yards. Knox added height and weight from what was a great sophomore season (54 catches, 669 yards, 10 TDs) and figures to be unstoppable this year.