Four area standouts named TSSAA Mr. Football finalists
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Four area student-athletes, but only two local schools, have a chance to bring home a 2011 TSSAA Mr. Football Award later this month.
South Pittsburg's Coltin Blevins and JaJuan Lankford, along with Baylor's Barrett Gouger and Henrique Ribeiro were all named finalists Tuesday for the state's highest individual football honor. Winners will be announced in Murfreesboro on November 28.
Blevins, a senior linebacker and captain for the Pirates, is one of three finalists for the Class A Lineman of the Year. The 5-foot-10, 225-pounder topped is the heart and soul of a South Pittsburg defense that has given up 14 points or fewer in nine of its eleven games this season.
The defensive MVP of last year's Class 1A state championship game, Blevins leads the Pirates this season with more than 120 total tackles (75 solo), including six for a loss, and three forced fumbles.
Lankford didn't even begin 2011 as a starter, but burst onto the scene after an early-season injury to Demetric Johnson. The speedy sophomore has racked up more than 1,600 yards for the season and scored 25 touchdowns despite starting just eight games. His top performances include a 366-yard outburst in a win over Whitwell, and 257 yards on the ground against arch rival Marion County.
The Pirates have had three previous Mr. Football winners. Quarterback Terrell Robinson (2009) and running back David Jones (2008) both won Class 1A Back of the Year honors, while Aaron Chambers became the school's only lineman winner in 1999.
At 6-foot-5, 285 pounds, Gouger ranks as one of the top offensive line recruits in the state of Tennessee. He is the anchor of a veteran line that has paved lanes for a high-powered Red Raiders' offense that is averaging 36.1 points per game. The three-star prospect verbally committed to Vanderbilt during spring practice, giving new Commodores' coach James Franklin one of his first big recruits.
Two previous Baylor players have earned the Lineman of the year award: Jacques McClendon (2005) and Scott Abelson (1997).
Ribeiro has proven to be one of Baylor's best weapons during a 9-1 regular season. The Brazil native has already kicked three field goals of more than 50 yards this season, including a 57-yarder in a win at Bradley Central in late August. For the season he's 8-of-11 overall on field goal attemps, with his only three misses coming from more than 50 yards. Baylor coach Phil Massey added more than 70-percent of Rebeiro's kickofs also end up as touchbacks.
No Baylor kicker has ever won a Mr. Football award.
All four players, their coaches and families have been invited to attend the TSSAA Mr. Football Awards Banquet in Murfreesboro ahead of the TSSAA BlueCross Bowl state championships in Cookeville.
Both South Pittsburg and Baylor are both still alive in the postseason. The Pirates, who are the defending Class 1A state champs, play at No. 2 Greenback in this Friday's second round. Baylor, who was state runner-up in 2010, will host MBA in the DII-AA state quarterfinals.
2011 Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Finalists
CLASS A LINEMAN
Coltin Blevins, South Pittsburg
Tyler Coen, Gordonsville
Boston Ray, Wayne County
CLASS AA LINEMAN
Jamel Hall, Greeneville
Jarod Henderson, Austin-East
Terrell Rollins, Greeneville
CLASS AAA LINEMAN
Brett Dillard, Mt. Juliet
Jay Guillermo, Maryville
Andrew Jelks, Henry County
Brewer Congleton, Knoxville Webb
Chase Hensley, USJ
Brandon Hill, St. George's
Woody Baron, Brentwood Academy
Barrett Gouger, Baylor
Graham Shuler, Brentwood Academy
CLASS A BACK
Jajuan Lankford, South Pittsburg
Jacob Tucker, Perry County
Tyler Warbritton, Huntingdon
CLASS AA BACK
Dalton Boles, West Greene
Charlie High, CAK
Ladarius Vanlier, Maplewood
CLASS AAA BACK
Brian Kimbrow, Memphis East
I'Tavius Mathers, Blackman
Patton Robinette, Maryville
Caleb Blance, Knoxville Webb
Josh Kimberlin, SBEC
Lee Mayhall, USJ
C.J. Beathard, BGA
Cornelius Elder, Ensworth
Jordan Wilkins, St. Benedict
KICKER OF THE YEAR
George Bullock, Knoxville West
Landon Foster, Independence
Henrique Ribeiro, Baylor