Big Blue Nation forms small colony in East Tennessee

ALCOA, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Big Blue Nation, the University of Kentucky, has a little colony inside Alcoa. Our Sarah Jane Cobb, an Alcoa High School alum, showed us why you might see some East Tennesseans sporting Kentucky blue at Saturday's game.

Leslie Stevenson coaches the Alcoa High School cheerleading squad. Stevenson grew up a UT fan, graduated from UT, but she's been known to cheer on the Cats.

"Where our students are, I'll root for their college as well," she insisted.

These days, there's not many Alcoa grads turned football Volunteers.

"The football coaches could tell you a little more about that, but they're missing out!"

So we asked AHS' Defensive Coordinator, Brian Nix, what makes a football players special in our area.

"You can look at our Mr. Football board and look at those guys that cared more about the team than they did themselves. I think sometimes you have to look - this guy is a five-star recruit, but is he coming for the University of Kentucky, University of Tennessee or himself?"

Big Blue fever caught on about ten years ago, starting with Alcoa High School alum, Kyrus Lanxter, soon to follow would be Randall Cobb.

"You see it here, even with Green Bay because of Randall, he's done so well there. I think kids coming from an area and going to a school creates some allegiance there," said Coach Nix.

As more state championships followed behind these great recruits, Alcoa became a UK hub. Tyler Robinson would go on to score multiple touchdowns against the University of Tennessee. Darrell Warren was a four-year starter. Cody Lewis also had a great football career. Maddie Sharp, who graduated from Alcoa in 2013, went to Kentucky as a majorette. All of these Tornadoes converted more and more fans inside Tennessee's borders.

"As you get the hometown kids going to a school, you start getting that loyalty in a dominate UT area," said Coach Nix. "You see a lot of people around here do cheer for UK because of the success those kids had."

Only a few Alcoa players have gone to play for UT: two recently, JaRon Toney and Derrick Brodus. So the big question is: Will UT start recruiting out of their own backyard?

"Jeremy knows what he's doing," insisted Coach Nix. "He cares about kids and the way he runs things and I'm sure he's going to do what's best for the University of Tennessee."