NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Beginning in 2008, the Tennessee Titans teamed up with the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) to honor the state's top high school football players. The 'Tennessee Titans Mr. Football' Awards were born.
Eight years later, the Titans announced at Monday's awards ceremony that the partnership will continue for the foreseeable future. Titans Director of Public and Charitable Affairs Kenneth Adams, IV made the announcement to the 500-plus in attendance at the Embassy Suites and Conference Center in Murfreesboro.
Tennessee's top high school football players from this season were honored at the 2014 Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Awards at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photos: Gary Glenn)
"We're going to do it long term. The agreement is for three years, but we're going to keep doing it as long as we can," Adams said following the awards ceremony. "High school athletics and especially high school football are incredibly important to what we do. These guys are out here working on their football skills – a lot of them will play in college and even some in the NFL. It's great to make an impact while they're still in high school."
The event serves as a promotion for high school athletics and as an opportunity for players to get on the radar of college coaches. Three members from the University of Tennessee coaching staff made their way to the event.
"I think it puts a lot of importance on what the TSSAA does holding these championship games, funneling them into strong college programs, and also making sure they're getting their stuff done in the classroom," said Adams. "I think it's a great event."
High school head coaches and members of the media nominated the finalists. A committee of statewide sports writers selected winners based on performance in the 2014 regular season. Academics and character were also taken into consideration.
The awards were presented to the top back and lineman in each of the five classifications of the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association. The top kickers in the state were also recognized. There were three finalists in this category, regardless of their school's classification.
Here are the 11 winners chosen from the 33 finalists.
Linemen: Zach Steward (Coalfield), Parker Howell (CPA), Jack Jones (Oakland), Brant Mitchell (Knoxville Webb), Drew Richmond (MUS)
Backs: Kyle Akin (Trinity Christian Academy), Ke'Shawn Vaughn (Pearl-Cohn), Jauan Jennings (Blackman), Clay Beathard (BGA), Cole Euverard (MBA)
Kicker of the Year: Laszlo Toser (Oolteweah)
"This is such an outstanding honor for all 33 of the young men recognized today at the Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Awards," said Bernard Childress, executive director of the TSSAA. "They were here not only due to their athletic ability that they displayed on the field throughout the season, but just as much for their outstanding character and academic achievements."
The awards luncheon marked the beginning of a big week for high school football in the state of Tennessee. The state's eight Blue Cross Bowl State Championship Games will begin on Thursday and run through Saturday night.
Adams said he plans on attending a game or two over the weekend and would love to see a few of the Mr. Football award winners in a Titans uniform someday.
"I hope so," he said. "Some of these kids are 6' 6" and 6' 7" so we'd love to have those kinds of guys."
Good luck to all the teams in action this week and congratulations to the 33 finalists and Mr. Football award recipients.