The 5Star Preps coverage area is replete with college-caliber talent this season.
From 3,000-yard passers to Under Armour All-Americans, the Greater Knoxville Area can showcase it all on any given Friday night.
With the start of the 2018 season just days away, we announce the first annual Preseason All 5Star Preps Team.
Here are the offensive stars:
QB – Cade Ballard (Greeneville, senior, 5-9, 200)
The Know: The Army commitment led the Greene Devils to a 15-0 mark last season and a Class 4A state title, picking up Mr. Football along the way thanks to 83 percent passing and nearly 1,000 yards rushing. The ultimate team leader and coach’s son, Ballard carries lofty expectations for himself and his teammates. He’s one who can will a program to greatness.
QB – Stanton Martin (Anderson County, senior, 6-0, 190)
The Know: Martin had the Mavericks 12-0 heading into the Class 4A state quarterfinals a season ago. And although he tore up his knee early in the first quarter against Greeneville in that third-round game, Martin nearly guided his team to a win. The Mr. Football finalist should be ready to go this fall — from his knee injury and the ankle/fibula injury he sustained in June.
RB – Tee Hodge (Maryville, junior, 6-1, 200)
The Know: Hodge shared the backfield a season ago with his brother Isaiah Cobb. Now that he’s a junior and the lead back, Hodge will showcase the skillset and physicality that prompted the University of Tennessee coaching staff to extend him an offer this offseason.
RB – Kareem Rodriguez (Alcoa, senior, 5-11, 172)
The Know: Rodriguez is one of a handful of ballcarriers in the Alcoa offense, and he shares most of the carries with Jalen McCord and K’Vaughn Tyson. Tyson is the straight-ahead power guy. McCord is the shifty guy. Rodriguez is the perfect blend.
WR – Jaden Gibbs (Farragut, senior, 6-3, 185)
The Know: Gibbs recently committed to UT-Martin, where he’ll play with his cousin (Farragut running back Isaiah Gibbs). But Jaden Gibbs drew scholarship offers from South Carolina, Kentucky, Marshall, UAB and Tulane. He and Tanner Corum (Southern Illinois commitment) will make for a tough tandem for defensive backs to cover.
WR – A.J. Davis (Maryville, junior, 5-11, 185)
The Know: Davis had more than 800 yards receiving as a sophomore last season and picked up offseason offers from Indiana University and Central Michigan. He has improved his physique, his speed and his leadership heading into his junior season. He’ll be a popular target for Maryville quarterbacks Braden Carnes and Cade Chambers.
WR – Dorien Goddard (Greeneville, senior, 6-3, 210)
The Know: A big-bodied receiver with good speed, Goddard amassed 1,012 yards and 12 TDs last season, helping the Greene Devils claim a 4A state championship. Goddard committed to Virginia in late March, choosing the Cavaliers over Georgia Tech, Central Michigan and Eastern Kentucky.
WR – JaShaun Fenderson (Fulton, senior, 5-10, 182)
The Know: Fenderson is one of the most unassuming stars on Fulton’s offense, but you find out quickly he’s a big-play guy once the pregame warmups end. Fenderson caught 40 passes last fall for 607 yards and seven touchdowns, as well as 18 carries for 223 yards and three touchdowns. He returned three punts for scores, too. He’s had a massive preseason.
WR – DaShaun McKinney (Fulton, senior, 6-2, 185)
The Know: After missing his entire 2017 season due to an ACL injury, McKinney will make his official return in Fulton’s opener in Week 2. McKinney, though, was one of the standout players for Fulton this preseason. Richmond, Austin Peay and UT-Martin are after his services.
TE – Cameron Hite (Greeneville, senior, 6-4, 215)
The Know: A Wake Forest commit who has a penchant for making big plays in the secondary, Hite will likely play tight end in college. But at Greeneville, head coach Caine Ballard likes to line Hite up out wide with the wide receivers. He caught 32 passes last seasons for 541 yards and nine touchdowns.
TE – Eli Nordhorn (Grace Christian, senior, 6-4, 220)
The Know: In a pass-friendly offense, Nordhorn caught 76 passes for 1,153 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior. He’s only gotten better and stronger, as has his quarterback Luke Kirby. So expect another monster season out of Nordhorn, who has scholarship offers from the likes of Indiana, Navy, Air Force, Tule, Western Kentucky, Yale, Dartmouth and Harvard.
ATH – Elijah Howard (Webb School, sophomore, 5-11, 165)
The Know: Howard burst onto the prep scene when he received an offer from Tennessee as a varsity-playing eighth-grader in 2017. He has elite speed and quickness. But after a relatively quiet freshman season, Howard appears poised to erupt as a sophomore, as he has picked up two more big-time offers: Virginia Tech and Mississippi State.
ATH – Isaiah Gibbs (Farragut, senior, 5-8, 180)
The Know: The UT-Martin signee doesn’t get the credit he deserves as one of the area’s top playmakers. He logged more than 1,500 all-purpose yards as a junior, and he ramped up his offseason preparations for this fall to increase his stock as a recruit and a Farragut senior. His Hudl film is a blast to watch, and Gibbs makes his name on slipping defenders with elusivity and speed.
OL – Bryn Tucker (Catholic, junior, 6-5, 300)
The Know: Tucker played a big part in the Fighting Irish taking the Class 5A state championship last season. A recruit sought after by the nation’s best college football programs, Tucker narrowed his college coaches to Auburn, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, LSU and Tennessee in early July. And he recently was selected to play in the 2020 Under Armour All-American Game.
OL – Cooper Mays (Catholic, junior, 6-3, 250)
The Know: Like Tucker, Mays helped Catholic win a Class 5A state title. He’s a high school guard but likely center in college. And these next two seasons will be reserved for him making a name for himself instead of being the younger brother of Georgia offensive lineman and former Mr. Football lineman Cade Mays. He’s already beginning to do that, as he has picked up nine scholarship offers from: Georgia, Ohio State, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, LSU, Duke, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.
OL – Chris Everhart (Greeneville, junior, 6-3, 307)
The Know: Everhart has found the way to pair his agility with his active nature and turn it into big success for the Greeneville football program, which won Class 4A last season. Everhart routinely grades out as the team’s top lineman, and he’s a tireless worker on the field at his guard position. He’s a FBS/FCS recruit, and will once again set the tone for a prolific Greeneville offense.
OL – Wes Dorsey (Grace Christian, senior, 6-6, 250)
The Know: A tackle by trade, Dorsey will be an interesting one to watch this season and into his college days at Western Kentucky. Dorsey has good speed for an on offensive lineman (5.0 in the 40-yard dash), but as he makes gains in his physique he could really transform into something special. He’ll block for 3,000-yard passer Luke Kirby this season, as the Rams are expected to contend in Division II-AA.
OL – Eli Mitchell (Alcoa, junior, 6-1, 260)
The Know: Mitchell is your quintessential Alcoa offensive lineman – maybe not exactly SEC sized but plays with a edge and strength that can wear down an opponent quickly. Mitchell came on strong the latter half of the 2017 season, when the Tornadoes reeled off a third consecutive state title. Mitchell is a left guard who has the ability to play center, as well.