For a list of the other Gatorade State Football POYs, click here.
THE WINNER: Justin Jackson
School: Glenbard North (Carol Stream, Ill.)
Weight: 180 pounds
Athletic achievement: The state’s returning Gatorade Football Player of the Year, Jackson rushed for 3,171 yards and 38 touchdowns on 348 carries this past season, leading the Panthers (9-2) to the second round of the Class 8A state playoffs. He became only the sixth player in state history to eclipse 3,000 rushing yards in a single season. He also hauled in 16 catches for 220 yards and a touchdown. Jackson recorded 36 tackles, including nine for losses, to go along with nine pass breakups and three interceptions. He rushed for 2,612 yards and 35 touchdowns on 421 carries as a junior during Glenbard North’s run to the 2012 Class 8A state championship game.
Academic excellence: Jackson has maintained a 4.90 weighted GPA on a 5.0 scale.
Exemplary character: In addition to serving as a member of his school’s French Club, he has volunteered as a youth basketball coach.
“Justin Jackson is the total package,” said Ron Muhitch, head coach at rival Wheaton (Ill.) Warrenville South. “He is a great competitor, a great student, and a great ambassador for a student-athlete qualified and going to Northwestern. He’s a team player for Glenbard North as a two-way player. A classy kid, great character and leader for our conference.”
THE FUTURE: Jackson has verbally committed to Northwestern.