High-SchoolPlayer-of-the-Year: Aledo

Gatorade Male Athlete of the Year nominees

July, 9, 2012
7/09/12
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A dozen exceptional student-athletes -- already honored as National Player of the Year in their respective sports -- are contenders for the 10th annual Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Award. On Tuesday in Los Angeles, one boy and one girl will be named prep sports’ Male and Female Athletes of the Year (ESPN3, 9:40 p.m. EDT), and both will be recognized at the ESPYS the following evening.

And the male nominees are (click here for the female nominees):

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The Bus delivers Gray's Gatorade hardware

January, 12, 2012
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ALEDO, Texas -- A month ago, a phone call from New York Jets running back and former NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlison delivered the news to Johnathan Gray that he’d won 2011-12 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year honors. Thursday, The Bus delivered the trophy.

“I saw Jerome Bettis out of the corner of my eye and my heart skipped a beat,” said Gray, who led Aledo (Texas) to a third consecutive Class 4A state title this past fall and rushed for 10,889 career yards to rank No. 2 in state history. “I was actually holding the trophy, and he just ran up to me and tackled me. I was thinking, ‘Oh no, we’re going to lose the trophy, I’m going down and Jerome Bettis is tackling me.”

If Gray can approach the career rushing totals of Tomlinson or Bettis at the next level or beyond, the high school senior will embody one of the most productive running backs ever. Tomlinson (13,684 career rushing yards) and Bettis (13,662) rank No. 5 and No. 6 in NFL history.

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Gatorade National Football Player of the Year

December, 6, 2011
12/06/11
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Johnathan Gray
Travis Brown/ESPNHSJohnathan Gray led Aledo High (Texas) to the Class 4A Division II state title as a sophomore.
The gridiron version of Aledo (Texas) senior Johnathan Gray is well known to high school football fans. Record-setting running back, move-the-chains machine, touchdown maker, and now, 2011-12 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year.

Lesser known to fans is Gray's 95 grade average as a senior, his 40-minute round trip day after day to visit a schoolmate he barely knew during her stay in a cancer ward. In other words, the consummate package of student-athlete.

"I'm so honored. This is truly a blessing," the 5-foot-10, 202-pound University of Texas-bound senior said Tuesday after winning the Gatorade award. "It's humbling to have people speak highly of my character. I work hard in the classroom and I help folks off the field because that's what I was taught. That's who I am. I'm so excited to be recognized as a player and a person."

Gray learned he'd won after an early-morning practice Tuesday. The surprise news arrived via a phone call to the Aledo fieldhouse from former NFL MVP and current New York Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who played high school ball at Waco's University High.

"I'm so glad he was the one who told me," said Gray, 18, whose father, James, earned second team collegiate All-American honors in 1989 and remains No. 2 on Texas Tech's list of career rushing leaders. "He's another Texas guy, and I was lucky enough to meet him once when I was a sophomore. It was pretty exciting to hear his voice on the phone and hear him saying what he was saying."

Gray, the No. 5 recruit in the ESPNU 150, 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. This season, he's led the Bearcats to a 12-2 record and a berth in the Class 4A, Division II state semifinals against Corsicana High, scheduled for Friday. Aledo is gunning for its third consecutive state title.

For the complete story on ESPNHS.com, click here.

Want to know who won Gatorade Football Player of the Year in your state? Click here. Want to be the first to find out who wins the 11 remaining 2011-12 Gatorade Player of the Year honors in your state? Follow the ESPNHS team that manages the awards program's selection process on Twitter @ESPNHS_Awards or visit the ESPNHS Player of the Year blog.

Texas Football POY: Johnathan Gray

December, 1, 2011
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A dedicated ESPNHS POY team managed the Gatorade State Football Player of the Year selection process, resulting in this winner based on the awards program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character. For his 50 fellow Gatorade State Football Player of the Year winners, click here.

Johnathan Gray
Travis Brown/ESPNHSJohnathan Gray led Aledo High (Texas) to the Class 4A Division II state title as a sophomore.
THE WINNER: Johnathan Gray

THE BASICS: Anatomy of a POY

School: Aledo (Texas)
Grade: Senior
Position: Running back
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 202 pounds

THE PILLARS: Gatorade criteria

Athletic achievement: Gray has led the Bearcats to a 11-2 record and a berth in the Class 4A, Division II state quarterfinals against Stephenville (Texas), scheduled for Dec. 3. He rushed for 3,236 yards and 58 touchdowns on 277 carries entering the postseason round of eight. The state’s returning Gatorade Football Player of the Year, Gray also hauled in 22 receptions for 458 yards and five scores through 13 games. He set state records in career touchdowns, career points, career 100-yard games and single-season rushing touchdowns. Gray became the third prep athlete in state history to eclipse 10,000 career rushing yards.

Academic excellence: 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.

Exemplary character: In addition to donating his time as a youth football instructor and a mentor to special education students, Gray 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.

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Eye on POY: Texas football

November, 18, 2011
11/18/11
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The window on the Gatorade State Football Player of the Year race is closing, and time is running out for student-athletes to state their POY case. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our ESPNHS team that administers the program's selection process.

Eye on POY: Mario Edwards
Mitch Sherman/ESPNHSBilly Ryan (Denton, Texas) DE Mario Edwards is ESPNU's No. 1 national senior recruit.
Mario Edwards
Senior defensive end, Billy Ryan (Denton, Texas)

2011 Team record: 11-0
2011 Team standing: Class 5A, Division I area round vs. Andress on Saturday; No. 33 ranked team on the ESPNHS FAB 50

2011 Tackles: 60
2011 Tackles for loss: 30
2011 Sacks: 11

Academics: B average
Collegiate destination: Florida State University (verbal)

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: No. 1 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2012 Under Armour All-America Game selection. 2010 Class 4A Defensive Player of the Year as named by the Texas Sports Writers Association. Son of former Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Mario Edwards Sr. In the opening round of the 2011 Class 5A, Division I state tournament, recorded six tackles, three tackles for losses and a sack that resulted in a safety and gave the Raiders the lead for good in a 43-21 win over Caprock (Amarillo, Texas).

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National POY Watch: Football contenders

November, 4, 2011
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Everybody knows a guy’s gotta win his own state first before he gets a shot at being Gatorade National Football Player of the Year. That said, two elite performers to this point in the season are among those making a bid to be honored as the best of the best once the calendar turns to December. The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. There’s plenty more work to be done, but here are two top candidates who remain in contention to win their own state and could someday call themselves a National POY.

Noah Spence
file photo/ESPNHSNoah Spence is Pennsylvania's No. 1 senior recruit
Noah Spence
Senior defensive end/tight end, Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.)

2011 Team record: 7-2
2011 Team standing: Class AAA district tournament scheduled to begin on Nov. 11

2011 Tackles: 50
2011 Sacks: 7

2011 Catches-YDs (avg.)-TDs: 3-30 (10.0)-1

2011 Team carries-YDs (avg.): 288-1,467 (5.1)
2011 Team passes-YDs (avg.): 208-1,887 (9.1)

Academics: B-plus average
Collegiate destination: Undecided

Additional considerations: Anchors a defense that allows just 11.0 points per game and an offense that scores 30.0 points per game. No. 4 ranked recruit in Class of 2012 as ranked by ESPNU. 2012 Under Armour All-America Game selection. 2011 Class AAA First Team All-State selection as named by the Pennsylvania Sportswriters. Led the Crusaders (13-3) to the 2010 Class AAA state championship game. Recorded 101 tackles, 34 tackles for losses, 22 sacks, nine forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries as a junior.

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Return of the POY: Texas' Johnathan Gray

September, 28, 2011
9/28/11
12:50
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The 2011-12 Gatorade State Football Players of the Year selection process is underway, and what better way to kick off coverage than with profiles of returning underclassmen winners? Repeating is no guarantee, but here's a snapshot of what this year’s challengers can shoot for …

Johnathan Gray
Travis Brown/ESPNHSJohnathan Gray is the returning Gatorade Texas Football Player of the Year.
Name: Johnathan Gray

Position: Running Back

Grade: Senior

School: Aledo (Texas)

College: University of Texas (verbal)

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 190 pounds

Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade Texas Football Player of the Year ... No. 8 national recruit in Class of 2012 as ranked by ESPNU ... 2010 ESPNHS Mr. Football USA National Player of the Year ... 2010 Class 4A Player of the Year as named by the Texas Sports Writers Association ... 2009 ESPNHS National Sophomore of the Year ... 2009 Class 4A Co-Offensive Player of the Year as named by the Texas Sports Writers Association ... 2009 and 2010 First Team All-State selection ... 2009 and 2010 Class 4A Division II championship game Most Valuable Player ... 2009 and 2010 Class 4A Division II state champion ... 0wns state records for touchdowns in a season (59) and career

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