Thursday, December 9, 2010

Northwestern QB Justin Worley named Gatorade National player of the year

Rock Hill Northwestern QB Justin Worley was named the 2010-11 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year Thursday.  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.”

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

-- Gatorade Media Release