Arik Gilbert Named 2019-20 Gatorade® National Football Player Of The Year

EMPTY

|Dec 19|magazine59 min read

MARIETTA, Ga., Dec. 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- In its 35th year of honoring the nation's most elite high school athletes, The Gatorade Company today announced Arik Gilbert of Marietta High School in Marietta, Ga. is the 2019-20 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year. Gilbert won the prestigious award for his accomplishments on and off the field, joining an impressive group of former Gatorade National Football Player of the Year winners who combined for six NFL MVP awards, 30 Pro Bowl appearances and six NFL first round draft picks.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan surprised Gilbert with the award in front of family, friends, teammates and coaches at his school. Check out a video of the announcement here.

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 Gilbert as the nation's best high school football player. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Gilbert from more than a million high school football players nationwide.

Competition for the national award is fierce. Gilbert topped the list of 51 state winners in football who have an incredible list of accomplishments, including 9 All-American Bowl Game participants, 27 All-State players, 7 SEC school committees and nearly all volunteering with at least two organizations.

Gilbert is now a finalist for the most prestigious award in high school sports, the Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award, which is announced at a special ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.

"Gilbert is probably the most complete prep tight end I've scouted," says Director of Sports Illustrated All-American John Garcia, Jr. "His physical profile alone would warrant offers, but it's his polish that makes him a can't-miss prospect. He's already a great route runner with very good ball skills, which pairs almost unfairly with his athletic ability. He's big, fast, physical, and competitive on top of it. He's probably the most dominant offensive weapon in the country, and he's doing it against elite competition in the Atlanta area, where he led his team to its first state title since 1967."

The 6-foot-5, 255-pound senior tight end led the Blue Devils to a 13-2 record and the Class 7A State Championship. Gilbert caught 102 passes for 1,735 yards and 14 touchdowns through 15 games. A two-time All-State honoree, he was also named Region 3 Offensive Player of the Year as a junior and has been selected to play in the 2020 All-American Bowl. Gilbert is ranked as the nation's No. 1 tight end prospect in the Class of 2020 by ESPN and Rivals, and No. 11 in the country regardless of position by Rivals.     

The founder of a campus-wide initiative called "Whisper," which urges students to have device-free conversations and supports diversity and inclusion efforts, Gilbert has also volunteered on behalf of the East Atlanta Kids Club, Habitat for Humanity and March of Dimes. A parishioner at the Life Revolution Church, Gilbert has also donated more than 50 hours to Marietta elementary schools and the Marietta Youth Football program. "Arik Gilbert is one of the best players I've ever coached against," said John Reid, head coach at Rome High School. "He's huge, fast and has great hands. He's the best player on the field at any position he lines up."    

Gilbert has maintained a 3.14 GPA in the classroom. He has verbally committed to play football on scholarship at Louisiana State University next fall.

Through Gatorade's cause marketing platform "Play it Forward," Gilbert has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of his choosing. He is also eligible to submit an essay to win one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants for the organization of choice, which will be announced throughout the year. 

Each year a selection committee evaluates the nation's top talent in the District of Columbia and all 50 states, choosing national winners in 12 different sports: football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball, boys and girls soccer, and boys and girls track and field. From the 12 national winners, one male and one female athlete are each named Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year.

Since the program's inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators. Previous winners include a distinguished list of athletes, such as Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, Karl-Anthony Towns, Derek Jeter and many other sports icons. To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student-athletes, visit www.Gatorade.com/POY, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Gatorade.

About Gatorade

The Gatorade Company, a division of PepsiCo (NASDAQ: PEP), meets the needs of consumers who participate in Sports and Fitness, through brands that include Gatorade, Propel, Muscle Milk and Bolt24. The solutions they provide are driven by a deep understanding of the unique needs and occasions of different types of sports and fitness. Gatorade, their marquee brand, is underpinned by more than 50-year history of studying the best athletes in the world and sports-nutrition research by the Gatorade Sport Science Institute, allowing it to provide scientifically-formulated products that meet athletes' needs both on and off the field. For more information and a full list of products, please visit www.gatorade.com.

About PepsiCo

PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers more than one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $64 billion in net revenue in 2018, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana. PepsiCo's product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

At the heart of PepsiCo is Performance with Purpose – our fundamental belief that the success of our company is inextricably linked to the sustainability of the world around us. We believe that continuously improving the products we sell, operating responsibly to protect our planet and empowering people around the world enable PepsiCo to run a successful global company that creates long-term value for society and our shareholders. For more information, visit www.pepsico.com

PREVIOUS GATORADE NATIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR WINNERS

YEAR

NAME

HOMETOWN

STATUS

2018-19

Jake Smith

Scottsdale, AZ

University of Texas

2017-18

JT Daniels

Santa Ana, CA

University of Southern California

2016-17

Tate Martell

Las Vegas, NV

University of Miami

2015-16

Jacob Eason

Lake Stevens, WA

University of Washington

2014-15

Kyler Murray

Allen, TX

Arizona Cardinals

2013-14

Andrew Brown

Chesapeake, VA

Cincinnati Bengals

2012-13

Max Browne

Sammamish, WA

Played for Pittsburgh Panthers

2011-12

Johnathan Gray

Aledo, TX

Played for University of Texas, Austin

2010-11

Justin Worley

Rock Hill, SC

Retired from Chicago Bears

2009-10

Malcolm Jones

Westlake Village, CA

NFL Free Agent

2008-09

Garrett Gilbert

Austin, TX

Cleveland Browns

2007-08

Matt Barkley

Santa Ana, CA

Buffalo Bills

2006-07

John Brantley

Ocala, FL

Retired from Baltimore Ravens

2005-06

Mitch Mustain

Springdale, AR

Retired from San Antonio Talons (AFL)

2004-05

Greg Paulus

Syracuse, NY

Played for Syracuse University

2003-04

Jeff Byers

Loveland, CO

Retired from Carolina Panthers

2002-03

Kyle Wright

Danville, CA

Retired from San Francisco 49ers

2001-02

Lorenzo Booker

Ventura, CA

Retired from Chicago Bears

2000-01

Joe Mauer

St. Paul, MN

Retired from Minnesota Twins

1999-00

Brock Berlin

Shreveport, LA

Retired from Detroit Lions

1998-99

Chris Lewis

Long Beach, CA

Played for Stanford University

1997-98

Ronald Curry

Hampton, VA

Retired from St. Louis Rams

1996-97

Travis Minor

Baton Rouge, LA

Retired from St. Louis Rams

1995-96

Tim Couch

Hyden, KY

Retired from Cleveland Browns

1994-95

Brock Huard

Puyallup, WA

Retired from Seattle Seahawks

1993-94

Peyton Manning

New Orleans, LA

Retired from Denver Broncos

1992-93

Ron Powlus

Berwick, PA

Retired from Philadelphia Eagles

1991-92

Chris Walsh

St. Paul, MN

Retired from Minnesota Vikings

1990-91

Marquette Smith

Lake Howell, FL

Retired from Carolina Panthers

1989-90

Robert Smith

Euclid, OH

Retired from Minnesota Vikings

1988-89

Terry Kirby

Tabb, VA

Retired from Oakland Raiders

1987-88

Curtis Bray

Monroeville, PA

Deceased

1986-87

Emmitt Smith

Pensacola, FL

Retired from Arizona Cardinals

1985-86

Jeff George

Indianapolis, IN

Retired from Oakland Raiders

 

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SOURCE The Gatorade Company