A superstar in Chattanooga and a trifecta of talent in Memphis highlight what’s shaping up to be another solid recruiting year in Tennessee.
Imposing Chattanooga defensive lineman Demonte Bolden is the undisputed top prospect in the state, but all eyes are on Melrose High School when it comes to depth of talent.
Three of its players – Joseph Doss, Antonio Heffner and Ellix Wilson – are being heavily recruited by the Southeastern Conference and beyond.
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Defensive Tackle/Defensive End
6-5, 294, 4.7
Chattanooga Tyner Academy
6-1, 225, 4.6
Nashville Brentwood Academy
Holbert projects as one of the South’s top fullbacks for 2004 coming off a junior season which saw him rush for more than 800 yards and provide strong blocking for the state runner-up squad. But it’s not statistics, rather raw physical tools, that makes Holbert so impressive. He sports a 320-pound bench press and a 450-pound squat to go along with his 4.6 speed. That’s helped draw offers from LSU, Tennessee, Auburn, Louisville, Colorado and Middle Tennessee State. He is also receiving serious attention from Georgia, Wisconsin and Iowa, among others. Holbert says he grew up a Georgia fan, so the Bulldogs could be a serious contender if they offer.
5-9, 175, 4.4
6-5, 260, 4.8
Memphis Christian Brothers
Mills was a finalist for Mr. Football as a junior, so big things are expected of him again this season. The big, powerful defensive lineman features an explosive first step, which helped him rack up 71 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and eight sacks last year. Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Colorado, Oklahoma State and Memphis have taken notice, extending scholarship offers. He’s also being recruited by national powers like Oklahoma and Notre Dame. Mills says he's "wide open" at this stage.
6-0, 205, 4.4
Wilson’s brother, Cedric, was a wideout for the University of Tennessee, so the Vols are expected to hold the early lead for Ellix if a scholarship offer is extended. Many believe that’s all but a certainty. He has offers from Arkansas and Ole Miss. Wilson is known as an aggressive playmaker in the secondary. “He runs like a corner, but I think he’s going to wind up being a safety because he’s such an aggressive, physical kid,” Melrose coach Kedrick Ingram said. “When you see him on film, it’s a bunch of highlights of him knocking people out. He’s a big-time hitter who always seems to get himself in position to make plays. He’s a difference-maker.” Wilson has 12 career interceptions to his credit.
6-0, 187, 4.5
Blowe is an impressive all-around athlete who played quarterback as a junior – passing for 400 yards and rushing for 700 – but could project at numerous “skill” positions at the college level. Some feel he will eventually settle in at defensive back, but he says he’d like the opportunity to continue playing quarterback if possible. Blowe has received early offers from Auburn, Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee while drawing interest from Arkansas, Georgia Georgia Tech, Louisville, Memphis and Tennessee. Auburn and Georgia are his current leaders.
6-3, 180, 4.5
6-3, 205, 4.68
Offensive Tackle/Defensive Tackle
6-7, 279, 4.9
A big man from a small town, Foster’s towering frame isn’t hard to spot on the field. This spring saw him draw attention from Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma State, Michigan State and Louisville. He’s reportedly still waiting for his first official scholarship offer, but with a 3.2 GPA and qualifying 18 on the ACT, he should have a bundle in no time. The Volunteers lead for Foster, who recorded 75 tackles and nine sacks as a junior. Ole Miss and Arkansas are also said to be high on his list.
6-5, 219, 4.52
Nashville Montgomery Bell Academy
Santi’s stock has soared since this spring as he made the transition from a relatively unknown prospect to a player with several major scholarship offers, including Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Colorado, Iowa, Georgia Tech and Louisville. As a junior, he caught 46 passes for 650 yards and 12 touchdowns at MBA. His tall, lean frame leaves room to bulk up at the next level while maintaining his outstanding speed. He’s displayed the toughness to catch the ball in traffic and good agility to make things happen after the reception. His blocking should improve with added weight and strength, but he already shows good technique and aggressiveness at the point of attack, maintaining his blocks throughout plays.