McWilliams finishes second at Mr. Football ceremony

Wednesday, November 30, 2016
From left are former Titans punter Craig Hentrich, Class 4A Back of the Year Amari Rodgers (Knoxville Catholic High School), runner-up Chase Kuerschen (Knoxville Catholic High School), Class 4A Lineman of the Year Cade Mays. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

Marshall County High School senior Cain McWilliams' only year on the Tigers' squad turned into a huge success as the MTSU signee was named as the 2016 Tennessee Titans Class 4A Mr. Football Lineman of the Year runner-up at the ceremony Monday at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

"It was an honor to be named a finalist for Mr. Football and I'm just blessed to be up there with those guys, I just came up a little bit short," McWilliams said.

Knoxville Catholic High School's Cade Mays, who finished second last year to Emmit Gooden (Haywood High School) took home the top award Monday.

McWilliams, who transferred to MCHS from Lincoln County put up some big number for the Tigers this season, playing in all 14 games.

McWilliams had 88 tackles (64 solo), 12 sacks, four caused fumbles and two fumble recoveries on defense for Marshall County, which finished with a 12-2 record and advanced to the Class 4A semifinals where they lost to Knoxville Central 31-24 at Lewisburg Friday night.

"Number one, he gave us a presence at the linebacker level we have not had the past two years," MCHS coach Thomas Osteen said. "He was just a force on our defense and was one of the reasons our defense played lights out all year."

On offense, McWilliams rushed for 360 yards, scoring 11 touchdowns and he added a fumble recovery for a TD versus East Hamilton in the first round of the playoffs.

McWilliams added an extra dimension to the Tigers squad this season, bringing that physical presence to both sides of the ball.

"He is a phenomenal football player and even a better young man," Osteen said. "He has a smile on his face every day, he is a joy to coach and God has blessed him with some tremendous athletic ability with size, strength and speed and he loves to work at football and he has a bright future ahead of him."

Cain McWilliams had a huge senior season for the Tigers, who finished 12-2.

McWilliams was the fifth Marshall County player nominated for the award with current New England Patriot Dont'a Hightower winning in 2007 and Ray Hightower won the coveted trophy presented by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association in 2000.

Quarterback Ashton Posey finished as a runner-up last season and Nick Robert Fender was runner-up for Division I, Class 3A Lineman of the Year for Marshall County in 2002.

"Just being here is a great honor for Cain, this is the elite of the elite that are gathered here today," Osteen said. "This is something he will remember the rest of his life and he is well deserving to be up here."

McWilliams, who will play basketball for the Tigers, is hoping for more success next season when he joins the Blue Raiders, who have been to three bowl games the past five seasons under coach Rick Stocstill.

MTSU finished the 2016 season with an 8-4 mark, but has not won a bowl game since 2009 when they defeated Southern Mississippi in the New Orleans Bowl.

"After basketball, I can't wait to get over there and become a Blue Raider," McWilliams said. "And it's only 30 minutes down the road, so that's great."

"A lot of kids going to college need a year or so in the weight room to compete, but I feel physically he can play right now as big and fast as he is," Osteen said. "He still has to learn how to process the game mentally, but he could go to MTSU next year as freshman and compete for playing time."

2016 Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Winners

Division I Class 1A Lineman Division I Class 1A Back

Josh Silvey

Greenback High School Preston Rice

Wayne Co. High School

Division I Class 2A Lineman Division I Class 2A Back

Alex Kirkendoll

Marion Co. High School Cordarrian Richardson

Trezevant High School

Division I Class 3A Lineman Division I Class 3A Back

Jacob Phillips

East Nashville Magnet School Tykee Kellogg

Alcoa High School

Division I Class 4A Lineman Division I Class 4A Back

Cade Mays

Knoxville Catholic High School Amari Rodgers

Knoxville Catholic High School

Division I Class 5A Lineman Division I Class 5A Back

Trevis Hopper

Memphis Central High School Tee Higgins

Oak Ridge High School

Division I Class 6A Lineman Division I Class 6A Back

Aubrey Miller

Whitehaven High School JaCoby Stevens

Oakland High School

Division II Class A Lineman Division II Class A Back

Trey Smith

University School of Jackson Eric Gray

Lausanne Collegiate School

Division II Class AA Lineman Division II Class AA Back

Dorian Hopkins

Memphis University School Ty Chandler

Montgomery Bell Academy

Kicker of the Year

Jacob Smith

Siegel High School