A nearly two-hour team workout just completed, and with most of his East Hamilton High School teammates heading for the exit, Bailey Lenoir remains inside the weight room.
Whether it's more crunches or maybe a few added minutes of cardio, the Hurricanes' junior tight end puts in extra work each day. It's the price that comes with being a football prospect determined to grab the attention of college coaches.
"He's a kid that, once he started to realize his potential, has really been willing to do whatever it takes to get better and better," East Hamilton coach Ted Gatewood said. "He's a driven young man. He's got all the skills that college scouts look for, and his upside is something that will bring a lot more attention.
"The comments I get are that college coaches like how versatile he is. They like his route running and hands and the fact that he's strong enough to seal the edge as a blocker and has that leg drive to move people. I think what will separate him is his ability to utilize his body to get open and his pass-catching ability."
While the football recruiting process comes to an end today for thousands of high school seniors, including dozens of area players, the journey is just beginning for Lenoir and next year's group of prospects.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Lenoir, whose father Patrick was an offensive lineman at the University of Tennessee from 1987 to '91, will be one of the most widely sought area players. He already has taken unofficial visits to Tennessee, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, UT-Chattanooga and Furman, and Coach Gatewood has been contacted by UT, Missouri and Memphis with their intentions soon to begin officially wooing Lenoir.
"It's just now sinking in that I'm getting colleges looking at me and wanting me to play for them," said Lenoir, who averaged 11 yards per reception and had three touchdowns to help the Hurricanes reach the 2012 playoff quarterfinals. "At first I was a little overwhelmed, but I'm getting used to it. I'm planning to go to as many camps as possible this summer, because that's where you can really get noticed.
"I'm not in any rush to make a decision or for anything to happen. I grew up following Tennessee and it would be nice to follow in my dad's footsteps, but I'm just going to keep working and see what happens for me."
Lenoir is one of at least five college prospects at East Hamilton for next season, along with defensive back Tre Herndon, linebacker Austin Gatewood, offensive lineman Cordell Sands and quarterback Hunter Moore.
Baylor kicker Rafael Gaglianone, last season's Mr. Football Kicker of the Year, is rated the No. 7 kicker in the nation according to one recruiting service and was named one of the top 12 kickers at a recent Nike kicking camp in Las Vegas.
Cleveland quarterback Austin Herink already has drawn interest from Alabama, Duke, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Teammate D.J. Jones, a receiver, also will be highly recruited.
"Austin can make all the throws," Blue Raiders coach Ron Crawford said. "He's a smart kid, a student of the game, and he's got a desire to be good. He's everything you want at that position, and we plan on showcasing his running ability more next year to show what he can do athletically.
"He's already gotten a lot of interest, and it's just the beginning."
TOP AREA PROSPECTS FOR 2014
• 1. TE Bailey Lenoir, East Hamilton - 6-3, 215
• 2. QB Austin Herink, Cleveland - 6-2, 210
• 3. K Rafael Gaglianone, Baylor - 6-0, 220
• 4. WR Chandler Curtis, Gordon Central - 6-0, 180
• 5. DL Isaiah Mack, NW Whitfield - 6-2, 240
• 6. WR D.J. Jones, Cleveland - 6-0, 185
• 7. DL C.J. Baker East Ridge - 6-6, 240
• 8. DB Tre Herndon, East Hamilton - 6-1, 175
• 9. LB Eduardo Trevino, Bradley Central - 5-11, 240
• 10. LB Lyle Durham, Dalton - 6-2, 190
• 11. LB Austin Gatewood, East Hamilton - 6-1, 210
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 20 years, starting at the News-Free Press as a 19-year-old reporter. He has been with the Times Free Press since its inception and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation ...