Back in 1985, Gatorade established an award honoring the nation's top high school student-athletes. Since then, the Gatorade Player of the Year award has recognized more than 12,500 state and national winners in 12 sports.
Gatorade Player of the Year alumni include household names like Kobe, LeBron, Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, Candace Parker, Kerri Walsh and Abby Wambach — a distinguished group, indeed.
This week we're catching up the nine Gatorade State Players of the Year who appear on Super Bowl XLVII.
MORE: Gatorade POY Homepage
If the number of former Gatorade State Players of the Year is any indication of this year’s Super Bowl outcome, then the Baltimore Ravens will win a close one against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Ravens feature five former winners, starting with star wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who led Pahokee (Fla.) to the Class 2A state title game and captured Gatorade Florida Football Player of the Year honors in 1998-99.
In chronological order, Baltimore’s roster also includes three other former Gatorade State Football Players of the Year: LB Terrell Suggs (1999-2000 Arizona), who actually earned Gatorade honors as a running back for Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.); DT Haloti Ngata (2001-02 Utah), who played both ways for Highland (Salt Lake City, Utah); and backup QB Tyrod Taylor (2006-07 Virginia), who totaled 7,690 yards and 100 touchdowns at Hampton (Va.).
Ravens wide receiver Deonte Thompson actually won the 2006-07 Gatorade Florida Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year honor as a high school sprinter at Glades Central Community (Belle Glade, Fla.).
Meanwhile, the 49ers feature four Gatorade winners who took home a total of eight POY awards. Interestingly, wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Randy Moss were each honored three total times in two separate sports.
In his final two years of prep competition, Ginn won back-to-back Gatorade Ohio Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year honors at Glenville (Cleveland, Ohio), where he was the nation’s fastest 110-meter hurdles runner as a senior. That same year he took home the Gatorade Ohio Football Player of the Year award and won MVP honors at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Moss captured back-to-back Gatorade West Virginia Football Player of the Year honors as a junior and senior at DuPont (Belle, W.Va.). He also won the state’s basketball award as a senior over teammate Jason Williams, a future NBA star.
Two other San Francisco players earned Gatorade State Football Player of the Year honors: former Dunbar (Washington, D.C.) tight end Vernon Davis in 2002-03 and former St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) offensive lineman Alex Boone in 2004-05.