When the Tennessee Tech football team kicks off its season on Saturday several former local players will have firm roles on the field while three others will try to work their way up the depth chart.
The Golden Eagles open their schedule against fellow FCS school Samford at 7 p.m. Saturday at Tucker Stadium in Cookeville.
Tavin Kilpatrick is listed as the starting tight end on this week’s depth chart. A junior, Kilpatrick played in eight games with one start last season. He caught four passes for 47 yards. As a freshman in 2017 he played in all 11 games and caught nine passes for 81 yards and one touchdown.
One of the players backing up Kilpatrick is Alcoa graduate
Mitchell McClurg. McClurg is also a junior, and he played in 10 games last season and caught one pass. As a redshirt freshman in 2017 he caught eight passes for 52 yards.
Another Alcoa graduate could make a name for himself on defense. Redshirt freshman
Jack Warwick is a back-up linebacker who played in one game last season. He was the Region 2-3A Player of the Year for the Tornadoes in 2017 and a semifinalist for Class 3A Mr. Football.
Three other local graduates are on the roster. Senior defensive lineman
Matthew McClurg, another Alcoa graduate, is in his third season at Tennessee Tech after transferring from Appalachian State. He has played in 13 games with two starts in the last two seasons. He has made nine tackles, including one for loss. He was a finalist for the 2015 Mr. Football linebacker award in high school.
Fourth-year junior defensive lineman
Richie Koons, a Maryville graduate, played in 11 games over the 2016 and 2018 seasons and redshirted in 2017. The former Class 6A all-state player has made eight tackles at Tennessee Tech.
Joe Dennis, a redshirt sophomore offensive lineman, is still looking for his first game action with the Golden Eagles.
Through the Ohio Valley Conference’s partnership with ESPN, all of the Golden Eagles home games and conference games will be available on ESPN+.
Tennessee Tech went 1-10 last season and was picked ninth out of nine teams in this year’s preseason media poll.
If you know of a former local high school athlete currently competing at the college level, send an email to email@example.com.
Dylan Hopkins (UAB) opens the season as the Blazers’ back-up quarterback behind sophomore Tyler Johnstone III, who started four of the last five games of last season. Hopkins is a redshirt freshman who earned two Class 6A all-state honors at Maryville and led the Rebels to the 2017 state championship. The Blazers open the season Thursday night with a home game against Alabama State.
Thadious “TD” Blackmon (Air Force) is listed as a back-up inside linebacker on the Falcons’ week 1 two-deep. He played in two games last season as a freshman and recorded one tackle against Wyoming. Air Force opens the season on Saturday with a home game against Colgate.
Kayne Roberts (Chattanooga) has stepped into the role of starting safety in his first season back in Tennessee. Roberts spent the last two seasons at North Carolina and switched from running back to linebacker as a freshman. Last year as a redshirt freshman he appeared in 11 games, mostly on special teams. Chattanooga will face Eastern Illinois on Thursday night.
Grace Oliver (Lipscomb) wasted no time getting her feet wet at the collegiate level. The true freshman played 29 minutes off the bench and recorded one on-target shot in a 4-0 season-opening loss to Northern Kentucky. She also played 23 minutes off the bench in a 2-1 win over Belmont.
Rachel Reid (East Tennessee State) also got minutes in her collegiate debut. A defender, she played 21 minutes off the bench in a season-opening win over King.
Jade Seery (Reinhardt) not only played in her first collegiate game, but she contributed one assist off the bench in a 3-1 win over Life University. The forward also got minutes off the bench in a loss to the University of Mobile.
Follow @RipSports on Twitter to get more from sports editor Corey Roepken.