Gatorade® National Football Player of the Year: Johnathan Gray

Former Super Bowl Champion and Gatorade State Player of the Year Jerome Bettis Surprises Winner for Local Ceremony

Jan 12, 2012, 16:00 ET from Gatorade

ALEDO, Texas, Jan 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --In its 27th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPNHS, recently announced Johnathan Gray of Aledo High School (Aledo, Texas) as its 2011-12 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year.  Gray, a two-time Gatorade Texas Player of the Year, was surprised with the news last month by a phone call from New York Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Today, he was surprised with a visit from former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, who earned Gatorade Michigan Football Player of the Year honors in 1989-90.

"When I received the state award, it was a really significant moment for me, so it felt great to invite Johnathan into one of the most prestigious legacy programs in high school sports," said Bettis.  "Gatorade has been on the sidelines fueling athletic performance for years, so to be recognized by a brand that understands the game and truly helps athletes perform is a huge honor for these kids."

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 prestigious 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 14-2 record and a a third consecutive 4A Division II state title.  Gray finished the season with 3,886 yards and a state-record 65 touchdowns on 347 carries.  The state's returning Gatorade Football Player of the Year, he also hauled in  26 passes for 517 yards and 5 TDs.  Gray's 205 career rushing touchdowns are a national record and his 1,232 career points rank second nationally.  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, ranking second overall with 10,889.

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.

Former notable Gatorade National Players of the Year include:

  • Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning
  • WNBA all-time leading scorer and rebounder Lisa Leslie
  • NFL all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith
  • Kansas City Royals Cy Young award-winner Zach Grienke

For more information on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information, a complete list of former winners, and future announcement dates, visit the Gatorade Player of the Year Web site at, on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at



















Johnathan Gray

Justin Worley

Malcolm Jones

Garrett Gilbert

Matt Barkley

Aledo High School/Aledo, TX

Northwestern HS/Rock Hill, SC

Oaks Christian School/Westlake Village, CA

Lake Travis HS/Austin, TX

Mater Dei HA/Santa Ana, CA

High School Senior

University of Tennessee


Southern Methodist University

University of Southern California


John Brantley

Trinity Catholic HS/Ocala, FL

University of Florida


Mitch Mustain

Springdale HS/Springdale, AR

Georgia Force (Arena)


Greg Paulus

Christian Brothers Academy/Syracuse, NY

Ohio State (Coordinator)


Jeff Byers

Loveland HS/Loveland, CO

Carolina Panthers


Kyle Wright

Monte Vista HS/Danville, CA

NFL Free Agent


Lorenzo Booker

St. Bonaventure HS/Ventura, CA

Minnesota Vikings


Joe Mauer

Cretin-Derham Hall/St. Paul, MN

Minnesota Twins


Brock Berlin

Evangel Christian Academy/Shreveport, LA

Retired from NFL


Chris Lewis

Polytechnic HS/Long Beach, CA

Retired from NFL Europe


Ronald Curry

Hampton HS/Hampton, VA

NFL Free Agent


Travis Minor

Catholic HS/Baton Rouge, LA

NFL Free Agent


Tim Couch

Leslie County HS/Hyden, KY

Retired from NFL


Brock Huard

Puyallup HS/Puyallup, WA

Retired from NFL


Peyton Manning

Isidore Newman School/New Orleans, LA

Indianapolis Colts


Ron Powlus

Berwick HS/Berwick, PA

University of Akron (Coach)


Chris Walsh

Cretin-Derham Hall/St. Paul, MN

Retired from NFL


Marquette Smith

Winter Park HS/Lake Howell, FL

Osceola Ghost Riders (Coach)


Robert Smith

Euclid HS/Euclid, OH

Retired from NFL


Terry Kirby

Tabb HS/Tabb, VA

Retired from NFL


Curtis Bray

Gateway HS/Monroeville, PA

Iowa State (Coach)


Emmitt Smith

Escambia HS/Pensacola, FL

Retired from NFL


Jeff George

Warren Central HS/Indianapolis, IN

Retired from NFL

SOURCE Gatorade