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Football Athlete of the Year
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Football Athlete of the Year

 

2000

David Beck
Lockport High School, Lockport, New York

The 6-foot-6, 275-pound Beck, an offensive lineman, was a first team All-State selection. In addition, he was selected All-Western New York and Lineman of the Year. His performance on the offensive and defensive lines this year was critical to Lockport High's success in 1999, as the team advanced to the Section 6 finals played at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park. "Athletes like David Beck are among the success stories produced in high school athletics today," NHSCA executive director Bob Ferraro said. "He has worked extremely hard to develop his skills and has become one of the best football players not only in the state of New York, but the entire nation, and we are proud to be honoring him."  A three-sport athlete, Beck also was the Section 6 Class A wrestling champion at 275 pounds as a senior and threw the shot put and discus for the Lockport track team. His volunteer work includes two missionary trips to Mexico, two years as a volunteer for the United Way and Helping Hands programs. He will attend Edinboro University of Pennsylvania this fall on a football scholarship.

 

2001

Tyler Ebell
Ventura High School, Ventura, California  

"Athletes like Tyler Ebell are among the success stories produced in high school athletics today," NHSCA executive director Bob Ferraro said. "He has worked extremely hard to develop his skills and has become one of the best football players not only in the state of California, but the entire nation, and we are proud to be honoring him." The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Ebell, who will attend UCLA, set a national single-season rushing record last fall, piling up 4,502 yards in 14 games, an average of 321 yards per contest, and his 64 touchdowns are second on the all-time single season list. Ebell rushed for more than 300 yards 10 times this year, and rushed for 284 yards to help his team beat Arroyo Grande High in the Division IV Southern Section championship game. In his career, Ebell rushed for 7,526 yards, a state record. A finalist for the Wendy's High School Heisman Award, Ebell was selected to play in the inaugural National High School Football All-Star Game in December. He also was selected National Player of the Year by SchoolSports.com.

 

2002

Lorenzo Booker
St. Bonaventure High School, Ventura, California

"Athletes like Lorenzo Booker are among the success stories produced in high school athletics today," NHSCA executive director Bob Ferraro said. "He has worked extremely hard to develop his skills and has become one of the best football players not only in the state of California, but the entire nation, and we are proud to be honoring him." It is the second straight year that a running back from Ventura has been selected the NHSCA Athlete of the Year; Tyler Ebell of Ventura High received the award last year. Booker, who will attend Florida State University, was selected as the Gatorade National Player of the Year after becoming his state's all-time leading rusher with 8,269 yards, scoring 126 of his 132 career touchdowns on the ground. His 850 career points also are a state record. As a senior, he rushed for 2,869 yards, averaging more than nine yards per carry as he led St. Bonaventure to a third consecutive divisional title. Booker also was named the winner of the Ken Hall Trophy, the equivalent of college football's Heisman Trophy, by the San Antonio (Texas) Downtown Rotary Club, and participated in the inaugural U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January, leading the West squad to a 26-6 victory over the East. Sports Illustrated magazine also recognized Booker's distinguished career with a mention in its "Faces in the Crowd" section this year.

 

2003

Austin Scott
Parkland High School, Orefield, Pennsylvania

"Austin Scott demonstrated what an athlete's desire and commitment can lead to, when he recovered from a devastating injury in his junior season to set the Pennsylvania rushing record as a senior," said NHSCA executive director Bob Ferraro. "The NHSCA is proud to honor Austin Scott as the National High School Senior Athlete of the Year." After missing his entire junior season to a knee injury, Scott set the all-time single-season rushing record in the greatly respected football state of Pennsylvania this year when he carried for 3, 853 yards. During the amazing stretch Scott also tallied record totals of 53 touchdowns and 318 points scored. The 6-foot, 1-inch Scott, who has 4.4 speed in the 40-yard at 200 pounds, now holds the fourth greatest single-season rushing total in nation's history. He will continue his academic and football careers at Penn State University.

 

2004

Jeff Byers
Loveland High School, Loveland, Colorado

In Football, Jeff Byers from Loveland High School is this year's first honoree as an NHSCA Senior Athlete of the Year. Byers, 6-foot-4 and 287 pounds, led Loveland to its second Class 4A state championship in four years. A 3.9 GPA student, Byers played center without allowing a sack in his three years as a starter. Although recruited by the top collegiate programs in the nation primarily for offense, the future USC Trojan was equally impressive on defense during his senior campaign. His nearly unbelievable statistics include 203 total tackles, 97 of them coming solo and 55 being for a loss; 10 sacks and 14 forced fumbles.

 

2005

Greg Paulus
Christian Brothers Academy, Syracuse, New York

Paulus had a season - and a career - for the ages. The quarterback led Christian Brothers Academy to a 13-0 record and its first-ever Class AA state title, passing for 376 yards and three touchdowns and earning MVP honors as he rallied his team past New Rochelle High, 41-35 in the title game. As senior, he completed 65.5 per cent of his passes for 3,677 yards, breaking his own state record, and 43 touchdowns, just short of his own state record of 45 as a junior. His 11,760 career passing yards, 152 career touchdown passes and 543 passing yards in one game also are state records. However, the 6-foot-3 Paulus, who sports a 92 per cent average in the classroom, will play basketball in college instead, joining NHSCA Boys Basketball Player of the Year Josh McRoberts in Duke University's freshman class.

 

2006

John Dergo
Morris High School, Morris, Illinois

He won't be playing football in college, but no player anywhere was more versatile or more important to his team than Dergo. He wore No. 5 and was a five-way standout as a running back, linebacker, kick returner, placekicker and punter. As a senior, the Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year rushed for 3,010 yards - the second-highest single-season total in state history - and scored a state-record 53 touchdowns to lead Morris to a 14-0 record and the Class 5A state title. His 110 career touchdowns also are a state record. In a 28-21 quarterfinal victory over eight-time state champion Joliet Catholic Academy, Dergo rushed for 366 yards, scored four touchdowns, and made two game-saving interceptions in the end zone, and added 206 yards, a touchdown and 14 tackles in the state title game. He also averaged 36 yards as a punter and kicked 53 of 64 extra points and two of three field goals, including a 37-yarder. A two-time state wrestling champion, Dergo earned a wrestling scholarship to the University of Illinois.

 

2007

John Brantley
Trinity Catholic High School, Ocala, Florida

In a state that may produce more elite football players than any other, Brantley stood out even in his state's deep talent pool. The 6-foot-3, 198-pound quarterback, who threw for 2,766 yards and 41 touchdowns as a senior, led Trinity Catholic to the Class 2B state title as a junior and a state runnerup finish as a senior. As a junior and senior, Brantley directed an offense that averaged 50 points per game while building a 27-game winning streak. In his career, he threw a state-record 99 touchdown passes and was intercepted just 14 times, passing for 6,802 yards with a 61.5 completion percentage. The Gatorade National High School Player of the Year, Brantley was the MVP of the EA Sports/Nike Elite 11 Camp and played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He will attend the University of Texas.

 

2008

Terrelle Pryor
Jeannette High School, Jeannette, Pennsylvania 

The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Pryor broke records on both sides of the ball as he led Jeannette to a 16-0 record, the Class AA state championship, and the No. 4 spot in the NHSCA Top 25 Small School National football rankings. The Ohio State University commitment became the first Pennsylvania high school player ever to run and pass for more than 4,000 yards in his career. He rushed for 4,238 yards, averaging 9.7 yards per carry, and completed 232 of 399 passes for 4,340 yards. This season, despite going the distance in only five of his team's 16 games, he rushed for 1,899 yards (13.2 average) and 33 touchdowns and completed 87 of 130 passes for 1,889 yards and 23 scores. Pryor was selected as National Player of the Year by Parade magazine and the All-USA Offensive Player of the Year by USA Today.

 

2009

Garrett Gilbert
Lake Travis High School, Austin, Texas

Never in the prestigious history of Texas high school football had one of its players been selected as the Gatorade National Player of the Year. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Gilbert became the first as he led Lake Travis to a 16-0 record, the Class 4A state championship, and the No. 6 spot in the NHSCA Top 25 Large School National football rankings. The University of Texas commitment, whose father is former NFL quarterback Gale Gilbert, finished his career No. 2 on the state's all-time passing list - behind only former Texas Tech University standout Graham Harrell - with 12,538 career yards and 136 touchdown passes on 895-of-1,368 passing. This year, he passed for 4,851 yards and 55 touchdowns against just six interceptions, leading the Cavaliers to an average of 49 points per game. In a 48-23 victory over Longview High in the state championship game, he was 25-of-34 for 358 yards and four touchdowns.

 

2010

Seantrel Henderson
Cretin-Derham Hall High School, St. Paul, Minnesota

No football player stood head and shoulders above the rest this year, but at 6-foot-8 and 335 pounds, Henderson just might. The University of Southern California commitment comes from the same school that produced the NHSCA’s 2001 Baseball Senior Athlete of the Year, Joe Mauer. A long-time Minnesota football powerhouse, Cretin-Derham Hall finished 13-1 for the second straight year and won the 5A state title last fall with Henderson anchoring both lines, also finishing as the 2008 state runner-up. Henderson was named Offensive Player of the Year by USA Today, was Player of the Year on the All-State Team selected by The Associated Press and earned Player of the Year honors from the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He was one of seven finalists for the U.S. Army Player of the Year and played in the U.S. Army All-American Game. Also an outstanding basketball player, Henderson averaged 14.1 points per game, and the Raiders started the season 10-0 when Henderson was in the lineup. Last summer, Henderson was a teammate of Harrison Barnes, the NHSCA Boys Basketball Senior Athlete of the Year, on a summer AAU team.

 

2011

Johnny Manziel
Tivy High School, Kerrville, Texas  

Manziel is one of the greatest playmakers in the hallowed history of Texas high school football. The dual-threat 6-foot-1, 195-pounder was the only quarterback to be named a Parade All-American after completing 520 of 819 passes (63.5 percent) for 7,626 yards and 76 touchdowns, rushing 531 times for 4,045 yards and 77 touchdowns and catching 30 passes for 582 yards and another five touchdowns in three years as a starter. As a senior, Manziel led the Fighting Antlers to a 10-2 record, completing 228 of 347 passes for 3,609 yards and 45 touchdowns, throwing just five interceptions, and rushing for 1,674 yards, a 9.8 average and 30 scores. That performance earned him the Associated Press Sports Editors Texas Player of the Year award and Offensive Player of the Year honors from The San Antonio Express-News. In a come-from-behind 39-34 victory over San Antonio Madison High Sept. 3, Manziel threw a state-record 75 passes, completing 41 for 503 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions, and was nominated for NHSCA Athlete of the Month honors. The Texas A&M University football commitment, who has already enrolled after graduating from high school after the fall semester, also batted .412 as a sophomore and .416 as a junior as his baseball team’s shortstop and is an 8-handicap golfer.

 

2012

Johnathan Gray
Aledo High School,Aledo, Texas

The first player to be named ESPN Rise Player of the Year as a junior, Gray added to his trophy case as a senior when he was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year. Nominated forGTM Sportswear Athlete of the Month honors by the NHSCA in September, Gray led Aledo to a 14-2 record and a third consecutive4A state title last fall. He rushed for 10,889 yards in his career to rank No. 2 in state history. The 5-foot-10, 202-poundGray rushed for 3,886 yards – No. 5 all-time according to the National Federation of State High School Associations record book – and a state-record 65 touchdowns on 347 carries as a senior, and also caught 26 passes for 517 yards and five scores. His 205 career rushing touchdowns are a national record, and his 1,232 career points rank second nationally. The No. 5 recruit in the Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU, Gray set state records in career carries and 100-yard games. He became the third prep athlete in state history to eclipse 10,000 career rushing yards. A three-year veteran of his school’s student council and a representative on the Aledo Independent School District Health Committee, Gray maintains a B average in the classroom.In addition to donating his time as a youth football instructor and a mentor to special education students, the University of Texas recruit has volunteered on behalf of his church’s youth group, an alcohol and drug awareness program and Baylor All Saints Hospital’s Helping Hands Foundation. His father, James,earned collegiate Second Team All-America honors in 1989 and stands No. 2 on Texas Tech University’s list of career rushing leaders.

 

2013

Derrick Henry
Yulee High School, Yulee, Florida  

Derrick Henry closed-out an incredible four-year career by breaking two rushing records.  Henry broke the Florida all-time single season rushing record with 4,260 yards on 464 carries.  In the process, he also broke the six-decade old national rushing record of 11,232 yards by Ken Hall of Sugar Land High School in Texas in the early 50's.  Henry ended his career with 12,121 yards rushing on 1,389 carries.  Both of those marks are national records. Henry never failed to top 100 yards in a game during his 47 game career, plus he also scored 153 career touchdowns.

 

2014

Leonard Fournette
St. Augustine High School, New Orleans, Louisiana

Leonard Fournette, who will play college football at LSU, was the Times-Picayune All-Metro Player of the Year in 2013. The 6-1, 225 pound running back, amassed 3,697 all-purpose yards during his senior season with 25 touchdowns. Fournette, who was considered a 5-star recruit, rushed for 1,802 yards and 17 touchdowns. He caught 45 passes for 745 yards and six scores, plus he threw touchdown passes as the team’s Wildcat-formation quarterback. Fournette, who carried a B average in the classroom, was named the Gatorade Louisiana Player of the Year as a junior and a senior, was USA Today’s Player of the Year in 2013, plus he made the MaxPreps.com’s All-American team. Fournette is the first National Football Player of the Year honored by the NHSCA from Louisiana

 

2015

Kyler Murray
Allen High School, Allen, Texas

There was no drop-off during Kyler Murray’s senior in 2014 as he and his teammates captured the school’s third straight Texas state championship and third straight High School Football America “mythical” national title.  The dual-threat QB, who is enrolled at Texas A&M, was 42-0 as a starter. Last year, Murray threw for 4,713 yards and 54 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,495 yards and 25 TDs.  Off-the-field, in addition to donating his time as a youth football instructor, he has volunteered locally as part of the Reading with the Eagles youth literacy-outreach and anti-bullying programs. He also serves as a mentor to several student team managers with special needs.

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