A Look at the Gatorade Football State Players of the Year

Gatorade announced its football Players of the Year, many heading to powerhouse football programs in the class of 2021, 2022 and 2023.
Author:
Publish date:

On Thursday, Gatorade announced its 2020-2021 recipients for the Player of the Year in each state, with many of the most familiar names in high school football bringing home the honor. 

SI All-American has the list, and the latest on where some of America's top football players and prospects are headed to play at the next level.

Alabama - QB Conner Harrell

The class of 2022 Alabaster (Ala.) Thompson signal caller led the Warriors to a Class 7A state championship with a breakout junior season, throwing for 3,570 yards and 42 touchdowns in the toughest region within the state's highest classification. Also armed with a 4.56 weighted GPA, Harrell has a growing list of options at the next level, with more than two dozen scholarship offers in. Harrell will take official visits to Arizona State and Northwestern next month. 

Alaska - WR Jordan Holland

In a condensed season, the Anchorage (Alaska) East pass catcher hauled in 27 receptions for 590 yards and nine touchdowns to lead the program to an undefeated campaign. A class of 2021 prospect, Holland is a two-time all-state selection is headed to play NAIA football at Arizona Christian University. 

Arizona - QB Ty Thompson

An Oregon signee already impressing in Eugene in the class of 2021, the big Gilbert (Ariz.) Mesquite passer was tabbed as the No. 15 overall prospect in the SI99 rankings. Thompson had a huge senior season in 2020, throwing for 3,431 yards and 34 touchdowns, rushing for eight more, in leading Mesquite to a 9-1 record along the way. Thompson threw for nearly 10,000 yards in his high school career.

Arkansas - QB Austin Ledbetter

An Arkansas baseball signee, the in-state, two-sport star got it done on the football field in 2020 as a senior. The Bryant (Ark.) High quarterback threw for 3,086 yards and 41 touchdowns during an undefeated state championship run. Ledbetter projects as a third baseman and/or pitcher on the baseball diamond.

California - QB Malachi Nelson

The youngest prospect to earn GPOY honors this year, the class of 2023 signal caller is one of the most covered quarterbacks regardless of class for a reason. Nelson navigated the spring season to help Los Alamitos (Calif.) High to a 6-0 run with staggering numbers, including 1,513 yards, 23 touchdowns while completing just under 74% of his attempts this year. Nelson will pick one of his more than two dozen offers on July 18 in honor of his parents anniversary. In-state USC, Clemson, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and others are in the hunt.

Colorado - RB Gavin Sawchuk

One of the top running back prospects in the class of 2022, Sawchuk had a big junior season in 2020 with 1,239 yards and 17 touchdowns in just eight games to help Highlands Ranch (Colo.) Valor Christian to seven wins. The nation's top programs, from Alabama to Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC, Oklahoma and others, have been after Sawchuk's verbal commitment since before the junior campaign.

Connecticut - DE Wilfredo Aybar

Another junior on the list, the Cheshire (Conn.) Academy pass rusher maximized his work in the condensed, three-game season in 2020 with a staggering 39 tackles and four sacks. Uncommitted, programs coast to coast are after his services. Ohio State will host him for an official visit the weekend of June 11. 

Delaware - QB Aidan Sanchez

A 2021 signee to Division II Kutztown University, Sanchez threw for 2,243 yards and 25 touchdowns for Smyrna (Del.) High in a seven game season. The senior's 25:4 touchdown-interception ratio and 70% completion percentage capped a stellar varsity career for the Eagles.

District of Columbia - LB Trey Jamison

The Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga College High School star led an Eagle defense that allowed just 10.6 points per game this spring. In the undefeated five-game run, Jamison registered 44 tackles, including for eight for loss and three sacks. The senior will continue his career at the United States Naval Academy.

Florida - DB James Williams

Chasing a state title throughout his prep career, the Miami signee hit the goal as a senior at Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage in 2020. Williams, the No. 1 safety in the SI99 rankings, was dominant as a versatile defensive back for the Patriots to the tune of 74 tackles, including seven for loss, and two interceptions along the way. He also forced two fumbles and recovered two more, scoring two defensive touchdowns during the title run. 

Georgia - QB Brock Vandagriff

Another state champion out of Bogart (Ga.) Prince Avenue Christian, the Georgia Bulldog signee accounted for 63 total touchdowns in 14 games of action. Vandagriff threw for 4,169 yards and 46 touchdowns while running for 503 yards and 17 more scores during his dominant senior run. The No. 23 overall prospect in the SI99, the expectation is that Vandagriff won't sit long in Athens. 

Hawaii - WR Titus Mokiao-Atimalala

Heading across America to play at Central Florida in 2021, Mokiao-Atimalala was a dominant pass catcher throughout his prep career at Ewa Beach (Hawaii) Campbell High School. Even without a senior season because of the pandemic, the future Golden Knight amassed 2,915 yards and 37 touchdowns on 170 receptions, averaging a stunning 17.1 yards per catch as a high school player.

Idaho - QB/DB Ben Ford

A two-way star out of Eagle (Idaho) High, the senior was an offensive weapon in totaling 26 touchdowns in just eight games to cap his prep career. As a passer, he threw for 977 yards and 14 touchdowns while adding 1,056 yards and 12 scores as a rusher. Ford, who will play football at Boise State, is also an accomplished baseball player at the varsity level.

Illinois - QB Athan Kaliakmanis

A Minnesota signee at quarterback, the Antioch (Ill.) High leader was dialed in during a six-game senior season. Kaliakmanis threw for 1,158 yards and 15 touchdowns against just one interception, adding 245 yards and four more scores as a rusher. Antioch didn't drop a game under his watch this season. 

Indiana - RB Carson Steele

Helping lead Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove to a 14-0 state championship run as a senior, Steele capped a banner prep career with 1,659 yards and 31 touchdowns. Also Mr. Football for the state of Indiana, the run pushed his career totals to 5,907 yards and 82 touchdowns. Steele will play at Ball State this fall. 

Iowa - DB Cooper DeJean

An in-state get for the Iowa Hawkeyes, DeJean does it all on the football field. While projecting in the secondary in the Big Ten, his offense was the bigger draw on Friday nights from the quarterback position. Leading Ida Grove (Iowa) Oabcig to an undefeated state championship run in 2020, DeJean scored 59 touchdowns (35 passing) while totaling 4,682 yards (3,447 passing) yards from scrimmage. 

Kansas - QB Lem Wash

A dual-threat quarterback out of Derby (Kans.) High, Wash led the Panthers to another state championship to cap his prep career. During the latest run, he was balanced in the attack, throwing for 1,313 yards and 18 touchdowns while adding 1,292 yards and 20 scores on the ground. Wash signed with Tennessee Tech. 

Kentucky - OL Jager Burton

One of the few offensive linemen to bring home GPOY honors this year, Burton was the tone setter for Lexington (Ky.) Frederick Douglass High throughout his prep career. In 2020, he registered 78 knockdown blocks in helping the offense average 38.7 points per game on its state semifinal run. Burton will play for the local Kentucky Wildcats at the next level.

Louisiana - QB Walker Howard

One of the top class of 2022 quarterback prospects, LSU is keeping the Lafayette (La.) St. Thomas More standout within state lines. Howard led the Cougars to a clean 10-0 record in 2020 to the tune of 3,430 yards and 39 touchdowns as a passer while adding 381 yards and four more scores as a runner. Howard recently shined at the Elite 11 Houston and was invited to the Elite 11 Finals this summer. 

Maine - QB Wyatt Hathaway

The Turner (Maine) Leavitt Area High two-sport star got it done in football and basketball at the prep level. Maine shifted to a 7-on-7 season due to the pandemic, where he lit it up as a quarterback. The last time he suited up in full gear worked out, too, helping Leavitt to a state title run thanks to 1,804 yards and 19 touchdowns passing while adding 776 yards and 10 more scores as a runner. Hathaway is headed to play Division III basketball at Saint Joseph's College of Maine after averaging 23-6-6 on the hardwood as a senior. 

Maryland - DE Demeioun Robinson

Another SI99 prospect on the list, Maryland's highest-ranked signee of the 2021 class hails from Gaithersburg (Md.) Quince Orchard High School. Robinson is a freaky pass rusher who flashed even in a two-game sample as a senior with 1.5 sacks and two tackles for loss. As a junior, the Maryland signee registered 85 tackles and 14 sacks. 

Massachusetts - LB Owen McGowan

A Boston College signee in December, the West Roxbury (Mass.) Catholic Memorial two-way talent made plays at linebacker and quarterback at the prep level. McGowan played in four games this spring, recording 45 tackles with two sacks and an interception to his name. On offense he worked multiple positions, throwing for two scores and running for two more in helping the Knights to an unblemished record. 

Michigan - RB Donovan Edwards

Before his memorable commitment to Michigan in the snow, the West Bloomfield (Mich.) running back wrapped up another dominant campaign in 2020. Helping the Lakers to a state title, Edwards ran for 1,502 yards on just 134 carries (11.2 ypc) and 30 touchdowns during the run. He showed the full skillset along the way, adding 15 receptions for 149 yards and three more scores. Edwards was the No. 94 overall prospect in the SI99 rankings. 

Minnesota - QB Trey Feeney

The Moorhead (Minn.) High quarterback wrapped up a strong prep career with a 7-0 run in 2020 before the pandemic led to the campaign being cut short. Feeney threw for 1,965 yards and 36 touchdowns against just one interception, wrapping up GPOY honors for the fourth time in the family, following his uncle and two cousins' wins in North Dakota. Feeney, who played three varsity sports, signed with the University of North Dakota in December.

Mississippi - QB Ty Keyes

One of the most decorated quarterbacks in the state of Mississippi's history, Keyes won Mr. Football three times in his prep career. The Taylorsville (Miss.) star capped a record-breaking career with 2,546 yards and 30 touchdowns, adding 560 yards and six more scores on the ground to lead the program to another state championship. Keyes, who signed with Southern Miss, is second all-time in Mississippi history with 14,565 career passing yards. 

Missouri - DL Mekhi Wingo

The St. Louis (Mo.) De Smet defensive lineman capped his career with a strong senior season, registering 54 tackles, including 16 for loss and five sacks. Wingo, a compact interior prospect headed to play in the SEC at Missouri, also sports a 3.89 GPA academically. 

Montana - OL Dylan Rollins

An SI All-American who led one of the nation's most dominant offenses to another state championship, Rollins allowed just one sack as a senior. The Missoula (Mont.) Sentinel left tackle, who led the Spartans to the 10-0 record and 46.9 points per game, will play his college football at BYU.

Nebraska - QB Cole Payton

FCS power North Dakota State will be adding the Omaha (Neb.) Westside quarterback to its roster this year. Payton, who also plays baseball, helped lead the Warriors to an undefeated state championship as a senior in throwing for 1,704 yards and 22 touchdowns and running for 1.029 yards and 17 more scores. 

Nevada - RB Elijah Tau-Tolliver

An FCS prospect headed to Sacramento State,  the Sparks (Nev.) Reed High School two-way prospect led the program to a winning record in a short spring season this year. Tau-Tolliver worked at running back to the tune of 641 yards and five touchdowns while adding 27 tackles and two sacks on defense. 

New Hampshire - ATH Curtis Harris-Lopez

A two-way talent out of Nashua (N.H.) North High, Harris-Lopez led an undefeated team through seven games last season at quarterback and defensive back. A Holy Cross commitment, he scored 22 touchdowns (18 rushing) and added 33 tackles and a pick-six while working on defense. 

New Jersey - RB Audric Estime

Notre Dame plucked the Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph Regional running back away from Michigan State late in the recruiting process, following a banner senior campaign. Estime ran for 1,838 yards and 22 touchdowns on 185 carries (9.9 ypc), adding 185 yards and two more TDs as a pass catcher. 

New Mexico - WR Luke Wysong

Another two-way talent, the Rio Rancho (N.M.) Cleveland star projects as a wide receiver for New Mexico, where Wysong signed in December. Prior, he put together a strong senior season against a condensed schedule, with 429 receiving yards and six touchdowns in just four games. 

New York - RB Clevmer Lubin

An Army-West Point prospect, the Suffern (N.Y.) standout broke the 1,000-yard mark in just six games this spring, leading the program to a 5-1 record. Lubin scored 16 touchdowns on 110 carries and worked 22 tackles on defense. The New Yorker also played varsity basketball at the prep level.

North Carolina - LB Jalon Walker

A Georgia verbal commitment in the class of 2022, Walker was all over the field for Salisbury (N.C.) High as a junior, registering 97 tackles, including 19 for loss and eight sacks to boot. Helping the Hornets to a 9-2 record, Walker dabbles on offense as a tight end and sports a 4.03 GPA.

North Dakota - OL Andrew Leingang

The Bismark (N.D.) Century standout worked the offensive and defensive lines at the prep level, with 37 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions on defense. Along the offensive line, where he may project best, Leingang helped the Patriots average 39 points per game through an undefeated season. 

Ohio - RB Corey Kiner

An LSU signee out of Cincinnati (Ohio) Roger Bacon, Kiner had a decorated prep career, with his 125 total touchdowns registering top three in Ohio state history. In 2020, he churned out 1,866 yards and 35 touchdowns in helping the Spartans to a state semifinal appearance. No. 87 in the SI99, Kiner also won Ohio's Mr. Football.

Oklahoma - DB Kendal Daniels

A towering two-way talent out of Beggs (Okla.) High, Daniels had a big statistical season on defense at defensive back with 120 tackles, seven sacks and four interceptions to his name in 2020. Offensively, at wide receiver, he hauled in 38 passes for 642 yards and 10 touchdowns. A Texas A&M signee, Daniels projects on defense in the SEC.

Oregon - WR Cole Prusia

A verbal commitment to Oregon State just last month, the Tualatin (Ore.) standout wrapped up the spring season with 554 yards receiving on 31 receptions, with nine touchdowns among them. Prusia played defense as well, recording three interceptions as a senior. 

Pennsylvania - QB Kyle McCord

An Ohio State signee out of Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joseph's Prep, McCord and company rolled through the shortened season to the tune of 6-0. The senior passer racked up 1,582 yards and 21 touchdowns and a state championship to wrap up a prep career in which he set city and league records for passing yards (6,887) and touchdowns (88). McCord checked in at No. 54 in the SI99.

Rhode Island - RB Sam Baddoo

A future Ivy-Leaguer set to play at Brown, Baddoo hit 1,000 rushing yards in just six games as a senior. The Providence (R.I.) Classical standout added 15 touchdowns and also caught 12 passes for 168 yards and six more scores. A kick return and defensive score brought Baddoo's TD total to 23 in the condensed season. 

South Carolina - QB Trent Pearman

An undefeated state champion at Central (S.C.) D.W. Daniel High as a junior, Pearman put together a banner campaign in the fall. He sported a 35:2 touchdown to interception ratio while throwing for 2,786 yards and running for 472 more. Six more rushing touchdowns rounded out the offensive production for the first-year starter. Pearman picked up a UAB offer last fall and remains uncommitted.

South Dakota - RB Tate Johnson

Averaging nearly 200 yards per game for Brandon (S.D.) Valley, Johnson helped the Lynx to a 9-1 record with 27 touchdowns on the ground and one more as a receiver in 10 games. The bell cow of the Brandon Valley offense amassed 1,956 yards as a runner and 121 as a pass catcher to eclipse 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Johnson will stay in state and play football for Division II Augustana University in the fall. 

Tennessee - LB Prince Kollie

One of the most decorated senior seasons in America belonged to the Notre Dame signee. Also a member of the SI99, Kollie did it on offense and defense for Jonesboro (Tenn.) David Crockett High. As a running back, he totaled 1,562 yards and 26 touchdowns to help the Pioneers to nine wins. Defensively, where Kollie projects in college, he registered 109 tackles, including 11 for loss.

Texas - QB Sawyer Robertson

A big quarterback out of Lubbock (Texas) Coronado High, the future Mississippi State Bulldog lit it up in 2020. Robertson threw for 4,509 yards and 58 touchdowns in 13 games, throwing just seven interceptions in 457 attempts along the way. He also ran for 233 yards and five more touchdowns in helping the Mustangs to 12 wins. 

Utah - QB Jaxson Dart

The most stunning rise of any prospect nationally in 2020 lies with Dart, the Draper (Utah) Corner Canyon quarterback who helped the program roll to a state championship with stunning numbers. The USC signee threw for 4,691 yards and 67 touchdowns while rushing for 1,195 yards and 12 more scores. The campaign placed Dart No. 1 in the single-season touchdown record books in Utah, No. 2 in passing yardage. 

Vermont - WR Gavin Johnson

Assumption College will soon add the Bennington (Vt.) Mount Anthony Union two-way star to its roster. Johnson worked at wide receiver, where he shined in the 7-on-7 season in the fall and in years prior, as well as at defensive back. In 2019 he hauled in 39 passes for 896 yards and 12 touchdowns in leading the Patriots into the state playoffs. 

Virginia - DE Kelvin Gilliam

An Oklahoma signee out of Highland Springs (Va.), Gilliam led a defense that was dominant in a 10 game season, registering shutouts in half of their games. The pass rusher put in 11 sacks and 16 tackles for loss along the way.

Washington - QB Sam Huard

The NFL legacy throws one of America's best deep balls and it was on display during an undefeated spring season run. Huard led Burien (Wash.) Catholic with 1,481 yards and 21 touchdowns while completing better than 73% of his passes in the process. Staying in state to play for the Washington Huskies, the SI99 QB could complete for playing time right away. 

West Virginia - RB Blake Hartman

Another two-way talent, Hartman will bring a versatile skillset to Lehigh University in the fall. The Inwood (W.V.) Musselman High star worked best at running back, rushing for 1,696 yards and 30 touchdowns in just eight games, tying the state touchdown mark with 118 in his career. Hartman owns the state record for total points with 748.

Wisconsin - DB Hunter Wohler

One of the nation's top safety projections, Wohler will keep his talents within state lines and play for Wisconsin this fall. The Muskego (Wisc.) star helped the Warriors to an unblemished record in nine games, registering 78 tackles, intercepting two passes and forcing a fumble as a senior. 

Wyoming - QB Graedyn Buell

A football and basketball standout at Cheyenne (Wyo.) East High, Buell did the quarterbacking for its football team in championship fashion. The 2020 run concluded after he accounted for 53 total touchdowns (38 passing) and more than 4,000 yards of total offense (3,065 passing) as a senior. Buell is uncommitted at this time.

Gatorade announced the finalists for the 2020-2021 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award among the state winners, naming Jaxson Dart, Brock Vandagriff and Malachi Nelson top contenders.

More from SI All-American

By the Numbers: 2021 NFL Draft First Round

Elite 11 Indianapolis Top Senior Performers

Elite 11 Philadelphia Top Performers

Elite 11 Dallas Top Performers

Under Armour Atlanta Top Performers | Recruiting Notebook

--

Follow SI All-American's college football and basketball recruiting coverage here on SIAllAmerican.com as well as on social media, @SIAllAmerican on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and now on YouTube.