Before listing the leading contenders for Mr. Football this season, I’m obligated to remind you that this time last year, Lone Oak quarterback Corey Robinson appeared on nobody’s radar — not even T.J. Shuck’s First-Alert gizmo — as one of the best players in the state. But Mr. Robinson threw for a mind-boggling 5,872 yards and 91 TDs while leading the Purple Flash to the Class 4A finals, and was voted Mr. Football over pre-season favorites such as Brandon Newman of Pleasure Ridge Park, John Cole of Somerset and E.J. Fields of Frankfort.
Four of the five players on my pre-season list this year are offensive stars because they’re going to put up the numbers that get noticed. Guys like defensive lineman Mister Cobble, offensive center Samuel Simpson and offensive guard Larry Warford — all of whom have commited to UK — deserve consideration, but they’re long shots to win Mr. Football because they don’t play glamor positions. That’s not fair, but that’s football.
My five front-runners, in alphabetical order:
DEUCE FINCH, St. Xavier running back. Tigers Coach Mike Glaser says Finch is the best RB he’s ever coached. “We could ride him to a state championship,” Glaser said. Finch is considering offers from UK, Louisville, Cincinnati, Stanford, Illinois, Northwestern, Stanford and Vanderbilt.
JUSTIN GREEN, Male running back/defensive back. Coach Bob Redman has had a flood of talent flow through Male, but he thinks Green is the fastest and quickest player he’s ever had. Green, who has commited to Ohio State as a defensive back, won the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes in the state track meet last spring.
LAROD KING, North Hardin quarterback. The 6-foot-5, 190-pounder has commited to UK, which recruited him as a receiver. But he’ll play QB for North Hardin, and Coach Crad Jaggers thinks he’s capable of throwing for 3,000 yards and rushing for 1,000. “He’s electric,” Jaggers said. “Once we get going, I think he’ll be a legitimate contender for Mr. Football.”
ZACH LEWIS, Clay County quarterback. Lewis is only 1,584 passing yards shy of Tim Couch’s state career record of 12,167 yards. History tells us that if you’re an offensive star and you set a state career record you have a good chance to win Mr. Football. It worked for rushing kings Scott Russell of Evarts and Derek Homer of Fort Knox, and passing wizard Couch. A 6-footer, Lewis is thought to be too small by some scouts to play big-time Division I ball.
JORDAN WHITING, Trinity linebacker. The best player in the most successful program in the state, and a blue-chip Division I prospect has to be included on this list. Whiting is a bruising 6-0, 220-pound enforcer who has commited to Ohio State. He’ll call the defensive signals for the Shamrocks as they pursue their seventh state title in eight years.