High-SchoolPlayer-of-the-Year: Football

POY Alumni: Super Bowl features 7 winners

February, 2, 2012
Wes Welker, New England Patriots, OklahomaAssociated PressWes Welker is one of seven former Gatorade State Football Players of the Year on the rosters of the New England Patriots and New York Giants.
Neither starting quarterback earned the honor, but there are seven former Gatorade State Football Players of the Year on the rosters of the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. Not all of them will play in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday in Indianapolis, but two play vital roles in the Patriots’ passing offense.

The NFL's leading receiver this season, Wes Welker was the 1999-2000 Oklahoma winner playing for Heritage Hall (Oklahoma City, Okla.). Also lining up as an option for Tom Brady will be 2006-07 Connecticut winner Aaron Hernandez from Bristol Central (Bristol, Conn.), part of the Patriots’ one-two tight end combination.

If Brady wants to change things up, he could hand the ball to Danny Woodhead, the 2003-04 Nebraska winner from North Platte (Neb.), or 1994-95 Louisiana winner Kevin Faulk from Carencro (Lafayette, La.).

Ryan Mallett, the 2006-07 Texas winner from Texas High (Texarkana, Texas), will likely spend most of his Super Bowl Sunday holding a clipboard on the sidelines as the Patriots’ No. 3 quarterback. And Andre Carter, the 1996-97 California winner from Oak Grove (San Jose, Calif.), can only watch his teammates as the defensive end was placed on the injured reserve list after hurting his leg against the Denver Broncos on Dec. 18.

The lone Giant to win Gatorade POY honors is punt returner/special teamer Will Blackmon, the 2001-02 Rhode Island winner from Bishop Hendricken (Warwick, R.I.).

Florida Football POY: William Likely

December, 1, 2011
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.

Gatorade POY: William Likely
Corey Long/ESPNHSWilliam Likely is a two-time Nike Football Training Camp Defensive Back MVP.
THE WINNER: William Likely

THE BASICS: Anatomy of a POY

School: Glades Central (Belle Glade, Fla.)
Grade: Junior
Position: Defensive back/wide receiver/running back/kick returner
Height: 5-foot-8
Weight: 170 pounds

THE PILLARS: Gatorade criteria

Athletic achievement: Likely has led the Raiders to a 12-0 record and a berth in the Class 5A regional finals against Miami Norland (Miami Gardens, Fla.), scheduled for Dec. 2. He rushed for 742 yards and 11 touchdowns on 69 carries entering the postseason round of eight. A returning Class 2A First Team All-State selection, Likely also hauled in 31 receptions for 586 yards and five touchdowns through 12 games. A two-time Nike Football Training Camp Defensive Back Most Valuable Player, he has 36 tackles, 15 pass breakups and four interceptions for a defense that allows just 84 rushing yards, 35 passing yards and 6.2 points per game. On special teams, Likely returned 12 total punts and kickoffs back for 380 more yards and two additional touchdowns.

Academic excellence: Likely has maintained a 3.86 weighted GPA in the classroom.

Exemplary character: In addition to donating his time to area youth as a football instructor and on behalf of a literacy-outreach program, Likely has volunteered locally at a food pantry and an assisted living facility.

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POY Potential: Top 5 Conn. Football Recruits

October, 5, 2011
The Gatorade Player of the Year Program honors athletes who meet comprehensive and exacting criteria in high school sports. Candidates are judged on athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders also must demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of ESPNU's recruit rankings.

That being said, the state’s top five football recruits as ranked by ESPNU are sure to enter the 2011-12 Gatorade Football Player of the Year conversation at some point. Here they are …

Casey Cochran
Christopher Beauchamp/ESPNHSCasey Cochran is Connecticut's No. 1 senior recruit.
1. Masuk High (Monroe, Conn.) quarterback and returning Gatorade Connecticut Football Player of the Year Casey Cochran

  • Height: 6-foot-1
  • Weight: 214 pounds
  • College: Connecticut (verbal)
  • Traits: Accuracy, arm strength, reads
  • ESPNU scouting report: "This guy is a very productive, competent passer that possesses a live arm, good feet and above average athleticism. He reminds us of Rutgers QB Chas Dodd both in style and stature. The downside with Cochran is that he lacks ideal height, but does possess a significant amount of bulk."

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