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Aledo senior running back Johnathan Gray was awarded the 2011-12 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year in an announcement in Aledo on Tuesday morning.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Gray as the nation’s best high school football player. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Gray from more than 1.1 million high school football players nationwide. Gray is now a finalist for the Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special afternoon ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.
The 5-foot-10, 202-pound senior running back has led the Bearcats to a 12-2 record and a berth in the Class 4A, Division II state semifinals against Corsicana High, scheduled for Dec. 9. Gray rushed for 3,435 yards and 59 touchdowns on 295 carries entering the postseason. The state’s returning Gatorade Football Player of the Year, he also hauled in 22 receptions for 458 yards and five scores through 14 games. Gray set state records in career carries, touchdowns, points, 100-yard games and single-season rushing touchdowns. He became the third prep athlete in state history to eclipse 10,000 career rushing yards. He needs 50 points to tie the national prep career scoring record and five TDs to tie the national career touchdowns record.
Serving on his school’s student council and as an Aledo High student representative on the Aledo Independent School District Health Committee, Gray has maintained a B average in the classroom. In addition to donating his time as a youth football instructor and a mentor to special education students, he 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.
“The blueprint for a perfect high school running back would include the speed to excel in track, the size to run with power and withstand 20-30 hits per game and the humility to ensure teammates will go to battle with him and put forth their best effort,” said Brian Stumpf, ESPNHS Senior Director of Event Development and football analyst. “At 5-foot-10, 200-plus pounds with sprinter speed and constant praise of his teammates, Johnathan Gray is that back. His on-field accomplishments speak for themselves, and his skill set should help him be very successful at the next level.”
Gray has verbally committed to play football on an athletic scholarship at the University of Texas beginning in the fall of 2012.
“Without question, Johnathan is deserving of recognition as the nation’s best high school football player based on his statistics on the field and the impact his accomplishments have had on Aledo’s success,” said Gatorade President North America and Global Chief Marketing Officer Sarah Robb O’Hagan. “But he is also a shining example to peers and aspiring young athletes of what a leader and a student-athlete should be. He represents everything we hope for in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient.”
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by ESPNHS and the Gatorade high school sports leadership team, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.