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.
THE WINNER: Fredi Knighten
THE BASICS: Anatomy of a POY
School: Pulaski Academy (Little Rock, Ark.)
Weight: 190 pounds
THE PILLARS: Gatorade criteria
Athletic achievement: Knighten has led the Bruins to a 12-0 record and a berth in the Class 4A semifinals against Dollarway (Pine Bluff, Ark.), scheduled for Dec. 2. He has passed for 3,920 yards and 60 touchdowns through 12 games, completing 227-of-308 passes while throwing just five interceptions. Knighten has also rushed for 824 yards and 12 touchdowns on 67 carries. He was the Little Rock Touchdown Club Player of the Year in 2010.
Academic excellence: Knighten has maintained a 3.44 GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: A devoted member of his church community, Knighten has volunteered locally on behalf of youth sports leagues and a program to collect school supplies for low-income students.
THE PRAISE: Tim Perry, head coach of rival Nashville (Ark.)
“He’s a dual threat, with a very good arm and great field vision. Trying to defend him really puts you in a dilemma.”
THE FUTURE: Collegiate destination
Knighten remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.