Gatorade® National Football Player of the Year: Justin Worley

Former BCS National Championship Game MVP and Two-Time Gatorade North Carolina Football Player of the Year Chris Leak Surprises Standout with Elite Honor

Dec 09, 2010, 14:30 ET from Gatorade

ROCK HILL, S.C., Dec. 9, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- In its 26th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPN RISE, today announced Justin Worley of Northwestern High School (Rock Hill, S.C.) as its 2010-11 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year.  Worley, the first-ever Gatorade National Player of the Year from the state of South Carolina in any sport, was surprised with the news during his physical education class at Northwestern High School by 2010 Canadian Football League champion Montreal Alouettes quarterback Chris Leak, who earned Gatorade North Carolina Football Player of the Year honors in 2002-03 & 2001-02.

"When I received the award on the state level, it was a really significant moment for me, so it felt great to surprise Justin with the news and invite him into one of the most prestigious legacy programs in high school sports," said Leak, who led the University of Florida to the BCS National Championship in 2007.  "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 Worley as the nation's best high school football player.  A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Worley from more than 1.1 million high football players nationwide. Worley 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 6-foot-5, 195-pound senior quarterback led the Trojans to a 15-0 record and the Class 4A-II state title. Worley passed for 5,315 yards and 64 touchdowns, completing 429-of-590 attempts (72.7 percent) while throwing just 11 interceptions. A 2010 Shrine Bowl selection and a 2010 South Carolina Mr. Football finalist, he became the state's single-season leader in touchdown passes this season, breaking the mark set by two-time Gatorade South Carolina Football Player of the Year Willy Korn (53, 2005-07) in 2005. Worley threw for more than 50 touchdowns in a season in two of the last three years and passed for 13,385 yards and 157 touchdowns in his career, leading Northwestern to consecutive state championship games. Earlier this month, he joined Northwestern alumni Dee Feaster (1994-95) and Jeff Burris (1989-90) as the only Trojans football players to win Gatorade State Player of the Year honors.

Worley has maintained a 4.07 weighted GPA in the classroom. A devoted member of his church community, he has volunteered locally as a guest speaker on behalf of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and has donated his time to the St. John's Church holiday program and the congregation's annual drive for the needy, Operation Christmas Child.  A member of the Northwestern High Beta Club, Worley has volunteered on behalf of the Feed the Hungry and Cheer For Children charities, as well as the Adopt-A-Highway Program.

"Justin Worley has been one of the nation's most prolific quarterbacks since his sophomore season," said ESPN RISE Director of Recruiting Greg Biggins. "He has a lot of tools that should help his succeed at the next level. He's a big kid with a nice frame and better-than-average athleticism for the position. He's a very accurate quarterback, shows good poise in the pocket and has a high football IQ as well. Worley is definitely a guy with a nice upside, and should do very well at Tennessee."

Worley has verbally committed to play football on scholarship at the University of Tennessee beginning in the fall of 2011. He will graduate early to begin attending classes on the Knoxville campus during the upcoming spring semester.

"Without question, Justin 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 Northwestern's success," said Gatorade Senior Vice President of Sports Marketing Jennifer Storms.  "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 ESPN RISE 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







Justin Worley

Northwestern HS/Rock Hill, SC

High School Senior


Malcolm Jones

Oaks Christian School/Westlake Village, CA



Garrett Gilbert

Lake Travis HS/Austin, TX

University of Texas


Matt Barkley

Mater Dei HA/Santa Ana, CA

University of Southern California


John Brantley

Trinity Catholic HS/Ocala, FL

University of Florida


Mitch Mustain

Springdale HS/Springdale, AR

University of Southern California


Greg Paulus

Christian Brothers Academy/Syracuse, NY

Navy Men's Basketball (Coach)


Jeff Byers

Loveland HS/Loveland, CO

Denver Broncos


Kyle Wright

Monte Vista HS/Danville, CA

NFL Free Agent


Lorenzo Booker

St. Bonaventure HS/Ventura, CA

Philadelphia Eagles


Joe Mauer

Cretin-Derham Hall/St. Paul, MN

Minnesota Twins


Brock Berlin

Evangel Christian Academy/Shreveport, LA

NFL Free Agent


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