Alex Mendoza has always been a beast on the volleyball court.

The former Lake Minneola standout helped the Hawks become one of the area’s top programs, even though the school was still in its formative years.

Her prowess on the prep courts earned Mendoza a scholarship to the University of South Florida, where she has steadily improved her game and become a go-to player in her junior season with the Bulls. She played a key role in the Bulls winning the USF Classic on Saturday, the team’s third tournament title this season.

In fact, she was so dominant on the offensive end that Mendoza has been named the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week for the first time in her career.

Mendoza, a 5-foot-11 setter who leads the American Athletic Conference with 11.5 assists and 2.7 digs per game, recorded 110 assists in nine games during the two-day tournament and averaged 12.2 assists per game. Powered by Mendoza, the Bulls won each match in three games and posted a hitting percentage of at least .311 in each game.

As a freshman, Mendoza averaged 5.7 assists and 1.4 digs per game as the Bulls compiled a 14-18 record. South Florida was 11-21 in 2015, Mendoza’s sophomore season, and the Lake Minneola graduate averaged 4.5 assists and 1.3 digs per game.

At Lake Minneola, Mendoza recorded 603 assists, 201 digs, 103 kills, 45 service aces and 15 blocks in her senior season.

Montel Presley, defensive line, Carson-Newman

A 2016 graduate of South Sumter High School, Presley has wasted little time establishing himself as a rock on the Eagles' defensive line.

Presley has started in all three of Carson-Newman’s games this season, including its 48-14 win on Sept. 10 against Saint Augustine’s University. He is tied for eighth on the team in tackles with 10 — seven solo stops and three assists — along with .5 sacks.

He also was credited with one quarterback hurry.

During his career at South Sumter, Presley recorded 103 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, six sacks and six passes broken up. Presley won the boys weightlifting heavyweight title in last year’s Class 1A state finals with a total weight of 780 pounds, outdistancing his closest competition by 80 pounds.

Presley’s family has deep roots in football. His father, Copiah Lincoln, played at the University of Mississippi. A cousin, Warren Sapp, played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Another cousin, Ellis Johnson, played at Wildwood, the University of Florida and the Indianapolis Colts.

Arkee Brown, running back, Stetson University

Brown, a Leesburg graduate, gained 12 yards on four carries on Sept. 10 in Stetson’s 30-15 win against Warner University at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium in DeLand.

His longest run went for 5 yards.

For the season, Brown is second on the Hatters with 49 yards on 13 carries. He’s also caught one pass for 10 yards.

As a freshman at Stetson, Brown ran for 219 yards and a touchdown, including a career high of 60 yards a Valparaiso.

At Leesburg, Brown played cornerback and running back for coach Randy Trivers. He also earned two letters in basketball, two letters in weightlifting and three in track.

Brown was the Yellow Jackets’ team captain as a senior and helped the team to a district championship in his junior season. He graduated from Leesburg with a 4.0 grade point average.

Justin Hornton, linebacker, Jacksonville University

Horton has gotten off to a solid start in his final season with the Dolphins.

The East Ridge graduate had nine tackles in Jacksonville’s first two games, a 55-7 loss against Liberty on Sept. 10 and a 41-7 win against Edward Waters on Saturday. In addition, Horton had 1.5 sacks against Edward Waters and forced a fumble.

After missing virtually the entire 2014 season with an injury — he played in one game and received a medical redshirt — Horton had 21 tackles in 11 games last season as a redshirt junior. He recovered one fumble for a touchdown against Delaware.

Statistically, Horton’s best season was in 2013 as a sophomore when he had 22 tackles — nine solo stops and 13 assists.

At East Ridge, Horton was a three-year starter for Bud O’Hara. He recorded 105 tackles and 11 sacks in his senior with the Knights.

Know of any former local standouts playing at the next level? Call 352-365-8268 or email