Former East Hamilton student/athlete now a rising NFL star for the Jacksonville Jaguars plays in Nashville this Sunday
Posted on 11/22/2019
Image of Tre Herndon, former East Hamilton athlete playing for Jacksonville Jaguars.Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars arrive in Nashville to play the Titans in an important game in the AFC South division. The visit to Nashville will also be a trip home for defensive back Tre Herndon, a former star for the East Hamilton Hurricanes. The Jaguars’ second-year defensive back is quickly becoming recognized as a rising star in the National Football League. Herndon’s climb to success is in spite of not being selected in the NFL draft. He is one of only four undrafted rookies to make the Jaguars’ opening day roster since 2015.

“His talent was obvious from an early age, but what set him apart was his desire to be the best, and his willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve greatness,” said Steve Garland, a history teacher at East Hamilton and defensive coordinator for the Hurricanes when Herndon played. “It was a huge honor to get the opportunity to coach Tre while he was a Hurricane Football player. The “EastHamFam” is ecstatic for Tre’s success, and we look forward to watching him on television each Sunday!”

Herndon graduated from East Hamilton High in the Class of 2014. He was a three-year starter for the Hurricanes. Herndon’s junior season, he finished with 63 tackles, four interceptions, and broke-up 11 passes to help the Hurricanes to a record of 11-2 and a spot in the Class 4A state quarterfinals. His senior season, East Hamilton moved up to Class 5A, and Herndon played on offense and defense to take the team to the state playoffs. He had 46 tackles as a senior and an interception as a cornerback. Herndon played wide receiver on offense and added 30 catches for 417 yards, and he also returned two kicks for touchdowns on special teams. Herndon was gifted in more than football as he lettered in basketball and track at East Hamilton.

“He is clearly the hardest working athlete that I have ever coached,” said Gerald Jones, a teacher at East Hamilton and Herndon’s position coach in high school. “His desire to be more than good burned heavy and deep within his soul. From the start of his freshman year you were able to tell that he wanted something more than just being a football player. After practice when everyone was headed to the locker room to change and go home, you would see Tre running on Hurricane Hill!

Herndon played college football for Vanderbilt University and was among some of the few true first-year students to see action on the field. He participated in all 12 games as reserve defensive back and ended the season with nine tackles for Vanderbilt as a freshman. Herndon turned up the heat during his sophomore year on campus and finished the year as a solid starter for the Commodores. In 2017 he played in 11 of 12 games for Vanderbilt and played both cornerback and nickel back.

“Tre was someone that I enjoyed seeing every day in class. He worked just as hard in the classroom as he did on the football field,” said Lindsay Donahue, a geography teacher at East Hamilton. “He took an active interest in every student that was around him. He was truly humble about his talents, and the opportunities presented him. He is incredibly level-headed and never let success go to his head. He has stayed connected to East Hamilton - truly a member of the “EastHamFam.” It was exciting to see him pursue a career playing a sport he loved while also working as hard as he did in the classroom at such a top tier university.

Herndon returned to Chattanooga in March after completing his first NFL season to host an event to feed the hungry in the Chattanooga Community Kitchen. The event called Humbling Hands, fed more than 200 people.

Herndon stepped in to replace Jalen Ramsey as a starter when Ramsey was traded earlier in the season. Herndon had two interceptions, his first in the NFL, in a game earlier this season against the New York Jets.

Herndon has not forgotten his roots and stays in touch with his teachers and coaches at East Hamilton. “I am so proud of everything he has accomplished as a student-athlete at East Hamilton and Vanderbilt and now his professional career with the Jags,” added Lindsay Donahue. “Tre is truly as special and kind now as he was when he was a student at East Hamilton. He doesn't have to stay in touch with his high school history teacher, but the fact that he does shows what a caring, thoughtful, amazing person he is.”