Arion Carter went from no offers to Power 5 prospect and Mr. Football winner

A year ago, Arion Carter didn't have any college football offers.

Today, the Smyrna senior is being recruited by Alabama, Ohio State and Tennessee. And now, he's a Tennessee Titans Class 6A Mr. Football winner. Carter, a four-star linebacker, became the school's third in school history to garner the award.

"This means everything in the world," Carter said. "Being from where I was a year ago, I had no offers and zero interest. I had nothing. I had a chip on my shoulder. All I knew was work and I still know work."

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Carter plans to announce his college destination on Jan. 7 at the All-American game in San Antonio and then early enroll.

"We knew what he could be," said Smyrna coach Matt Williams, who pointed out Carter played primarily running back his junior year out of necessity and to protect him as he played with an ankle injury. "Obviously, what we saw on the field is what we expected."

The TSSAA announced all nine Tennessee Titans Mr. Football winners and Kicker of the Year on Wednesday at Nissan Stadium, wrapping up the 2022 season.

The Mr. Football award is a regular-season based award. Postseason statistics or achievements are not considered. A statewide panel of high school sports writers vote for the semifinalists and winners.

De'Sean Bishop of Karns was the lone repeat winner this season, claiming the Class 5A honor again. He rushed for 2,320 yards in the regular season.

"It was a little bit of a sigh of relief," Bishop said. "All the hard work is paying off."

Four of the Mr. Football winners also were state champions. That included McKenzie's Jackson Cassidy (Class 1A Mr. Football), Tyner Academy's Josh Jackson (Class 2A Mr. Football), Alcoa's Lance Williams (Class 3A Mr. Football) and Lipscomb Academy's Junior Sherrill (Division II-AA Mr. Football).

"We've been working toward a state championship since we were in middle school," Cassidy said. "Mr. Football is just extra.

"State championship was way above Mr. Football. State championships were a goal for everybody. We accomplished that."

From left to right, front row, Oziel Hernadez, kicker of the year, Maurice "Junior" Sherrill, Division II Class AA, Marcel Reed, Division II Class AAA, D.j. Merriweather, Division II Class A, Marcellus Jackson, Division I Class 4A, second row, Jackson Cassidy Division I Class 1A, Arion Carter, Division I Class 6A, Lance Williams Division I Class 2A, and Josh Jackson, Division I Class 2A, and De'Sean Bishop, Division I Class 5A, all receive a 2022 Mr. Football awards at the luncheon at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022.
From left to right, front row, Oziel Hernadez, kicker of the year, Maurice "Junior" Sherrill, Division II Class AA, Marcel Reed, Division II Class AAA, D.j. Merriweather, Division II Class A, Marcellus Jackson, Division I Class 4A, second row, Jackson Cassidy Division I Class 1A, Arion Carter, Division I Class 6A, Lance Williams Division I Class 2A, and Josh Jackson, Division I Class 2A, and De'Sean Bishop, Division I Class 5A, all receive a 2022 Mr. Football awards at the luncheon at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022.

Here is the complete list of 2002 winners:

Class 1A

Jackson Cassidy, McKenzie, Sr.

Cassidy was 66-of-107 passing for 1,464 yards with 20 TDs. He also had 347 rushing yards and seven rushing TDs. He had 51 total tackles with two for loss.

Finalists: Kumaro Brown, MASE; Isaiah Thomison, Fayetteville

Class 2A

Josh Jackson, Tyner Academy, Sr.

Jackson was 122-of-181 passing for 2,137 yards with 26 TDs. He also rushed for 136 yards.

Finalists: Jacquan Davis, Fairley; Zech Prince, East Robertson

Class 3A

Lance Williams, Alcoa, Sr.

Williams, a Virginia Tech commitment, allowed one sack all season. He was a standout offensive tackle and played on the defensive line when needed.

Finalists: Jordan Harris, Alcoa; Mark Joseph, Shefield

Class 4A

Marcellus Jackson, Fulton, Sr.

Jackson threw for 1,874 yards, ran for 1,420 yards and had 40 total TDs — 23 passing and 17 rushing. He had 57 tackles, three forced fumbles, recovered three fumbles and had three interceptions.

Finalists: Gabe Borders, Macon County; Walker Martinez, Anderson County

Class 5A

De'Sean Bishop, Karns, Sr.

Bishop ran for 2,413 rushing yards and scored 30 rushing TDs. He had 211 receiving yards and three TDs and returned a punt for a touchdown.

Finalists: Malaki Dowell, White County; Brayden Latham, Knoxville West

Class 6A

Arion Carter, Smyrna, Sr.

Carter ran for 917 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. He had 73 tackles with three sacks. He forced two fumbles and intercepted a pass.

Finalists: Justin Brown, Blackman; Noah Vaughn, Maryville

Division II-A

D.J. Merriweather, Clarksville Academy, Sr.

Merriweather threw for 2,040 yards with 27 touchdowns and rushed for 875 yards with 11 TDs. He also had 41 tackles.

Finalists: Jared Curtis, Nashville Christian; Kevin Finch, USJ

Division II-AA

Junior Sherrill, Lipscomb Academy, Sr.

Sherrill had 70 catches for 1,112 yards with 18 receiving touchdowns.

Finalists: Kaleb Beasley, Lipscomb Academy; Charlie Robinson, Knoxville Webb

Division II-AAA

Marcel Reed, MBA, Sr.

Reed was 110-of-184 passing for 1,619 yards with 16 TDs. He also had 113 carries for 779 yards and 14 rushing TDs.

Finalists: Max Carroll, Briarcrest Christian; Caleb Hampton, Baylor

Kicker of the Year

Oziel Hernandez, Germantown, Sr.

Hernandez was 32-of-34 on PATs and 80 percent of his kickoffs were touchbacks. He was 9-of-12 on field goals with a long of 44.

Finalists: Max Gilbert, Lausanne; Reese Keeney, Farragut

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: TSSAA announces Tennessee Titans Mr. Football winners for 2022 season