High school football season kicks off Aug. 18. The Herald-Leader will be rolling out stories every day from now until the first day of the season to help prepare you for the months ahead.
It’s no secret that Lexington and Scott County, boasting the biggest student populations, usually produce the greatest number of standout athletes. But Central Kentucky is full of football talent.
Here are 10 football athletes who play for schools outside of Lexington and Scott County that you probably should get to know before the 2017 season ramps up.
Matthew Barber, Paris
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He was the team’s second-leading rusher a year ago as a freshman and should receive more carries this season due to the graduation of Tayjin Cunningham. His 100-meter dash time was the fastest among freshmen in May’s Class A, Region 5 meet.
Daegan Bush, Woodford County
As a freshman the 6-foot-1, 235-pound lineman made the all-district team in Class 5A, District 6. His stock will be one to watch over the next few seasons.
Connor Hearn, East Jessamine
Last season the Jaguars’ rushing attack took a hit after star senior Justin McIntyre broke his leg in the opening game of the season. This season it must replace its top three rushers from last year; Hearn, who’s also one of East Jessamine’s best defensive returnees, was fourth on the list as a junior.
Chad Holleran, Franklin County
He’s the son of Randy Holleran, who was an an All-American at UK and is an assistant at Franklin County (Brady Holleran, another son, is a sophomore). The 6-foot-3, 216-pound middle linebacker is currently undecided on his college choice.
Trevon Faulkner, Mercer County
The Mr. Basketball hopeful holds several offers from mid-major Division I schools, including Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State, Northern Kentucky and Valparaiso. He’ll likely be the Titans’ primary receiving threat on the football field this season and will continue to be a menace in the secondary; he led Mercer with seven interceptions last year.
Tyler Peters, Anderson County
Last year he threw for 906 yards and six TDs and led the defense with four interceptions. He’ll be standing behind an offensive line group that features five juniors and seniors with starting experience.
Wandale Robinson, Western Hills
The junior picked up several major college offers over the summer, including ones from UK and the University of Louisville. He rushed for more than 2,000 yards but is also a threat at receiver, where he’s projected to play at the next level.
Carter Smith, Madison Southern
He was voted player of the year in Class 5A, District 6 as a junior after rushing for 962 yards and 12 TDs. Army and Air Force have offered him and Coach Jon Clark expects more FBS schools to get into his recruitment during the season. Smith participated in the Governor’s Scholar Program this summer and has a 33 ACT. “He’s a special kid,” wrote Clark. “The most humble and intelligent superstar I’ve ever coached.”
Jonathan Tillman, Frankfort
Panthers Coach Craig Foley said he “will be a diamond in the rough;” at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, the junior might have a hard time going unnoticed with a productive season. He does a little bit of everything for Frankfort — he lines up at tight end and defensive end but also gets some time under center. He tossed seven TDs and went for 629 yards as a sophomore.
Ben Vanhook, Harrison County
As a junior he set school passing records with 1,600 yards and 13 TDs. He’ll look to lead the Thorobreds, who graduated 18 seniors, to their first postseason victory since 2008.