Others are ranked higher by national recruiting services, but Bowling Green High School wide receiver Nacarius Fant took the No. 1 spot in the race for the state’s top high school football award.
Fant on Thursday was named Kentucky’s Mr. Football by The Associated Press after helping Bowling Green win its third straight Class 5-A state championship last month.
Fant had 83 catches for 1,699 yards and 24 touchdowns as the Purples beat Pulaski County in the 5-A final and extended their winning streak to 44 games.
Fant, a 5-foot-10 175-pounder, has committed to Western Kentucky University. He was among four finalists for the award, joining Conner quarterback Drew Barker, Scott County wide receiver Scott Daniel and John Hardin defensive lineman Matt Elam.
Barker, who has committed to the University of Kentucky, and Elam, who is deciding between Alabama and Kentucky, are the state’s highest-rated players in the Class of 2014 and will play in Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
But Fant was the player who garnered the most votes from the state’s media.
“Hearing the news, it kind of shocked me,” Fant said. “I knew all year that people were talking about Drew Barker and Matt Elam. It just shows that anything is possible. Sometimes it’s not all about the highest-ranked or best recruits. It’s about whoever deserves it and has the better year.”
Fant led a Bowling Green sweep of the top AP awards, as the Purples’ Kevin Wallace was named the state’s Coach of the Year.
Fant finished his career ranked among the top five in state history in three receiving categories — 4,473 yards (third), 52 touchdowns (tied for fourth) and 227 catches (tied for fifth).
He also was the leading vote-getter on The Courier-Journal’s All-State team, receiving 40 from the 96 coaches who participated. He did so despite not possession great size or speed for a wide receiver.
“My receivers coach is really good and works on the fundamentals that I take into the game,” Fant said. “I’m not the fastest, but I’m learning how to create space and use footwork to get away from quicker and more aggressive (defensive backs). Then it’s all about catching the ball, and I’m blessed to have good hands.”
Fant is the second straight wide receiver to win the award. Trinity’s James Quick, now a freshman at the University of Louisville, took the honor last year.
Fant is the first player from Bowling Green to win the honor and the second from Warren County. Warren Central running back Damon Hood won in 1990.
Five players from the Louisville area received first-team All-State honors from the AP – DeSales running back Dylan Byrd, St. Xavier offensive lineman John Kurtz, Male offensive linemen Houston Sparkman and Marcus Smith and Collins linebacker Masai Whyte.