From many, there will be one. And while there’s still no guarantee contending athletes will win their own state at this point in the season, a number of elite performers are making a case for Gatorade National Football Player of the Year consideration. Here’s the scoop on the latest top candidate.
Senior cornerback, Monarch (Coconut Creek, Fla.)
Greatness Present: Nobody has cracked the National Federation of State High School Associations’ all-time top 10 in single-season interceptions since 1990, and yet Hoggins is on pace to waltz into the record book as if it were the end zone on another pick-six return.
The 5-foot-10, 166-pound senior cornerback’s 14 interceptions through his first seven games lead the nation this season. His effort anchors a defense that has allowed just 8.1 points per game, helping the Knights to a 7-0 start in Florida’s highest classification (8A).
Eight of the 11 players on the NFHS single-season interceptions list (two tied for 10th) collected their 20-plus picks prior to 1980, and Strasburg (Colo.) standout Trevor Graf is the only person to make the top 10 in the past 32 years. His 26 in 1990 rank second in history.
The Knights could play as many as eight games if they make a run to the state championship game. Currently averaging two interceptions per game, Hoggins is on pace to surpass Graf. Although, the Monarch senior would be hard-pressed to set the national standard, since Brenham (Texas) star Jim Linnstaeder totaled 35 INTs in 1956.
However, one NFHS record remains within reach. Hoggins has returned four of his 14 picks for TDs this season, just two behind the nation’s top mark. Saginaw (Mich.) Nouvel Catholic Central’s Maurice Cooper and San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) Valley Christian’s Ben Sukut each returned six INTs for scores in 1994 and 2012, respectively.
Greatness Past: Hoggins led the Florida Fire to the title at the 2014 IMG 7-on-7 national championships this past summer, earning the No. 2 spot on Rivals.com’s “top defensive performers” list behind Florida State-bound safety Derwin James of Haines City (Fla.).
Interestingly, Hoggins has benefited from practicing opposite Monarch senior teammate Calvin Ridley, the nation’s top-ranked wide receiver recruit. While Ridley’s age (19 years, 10 months) precluded him from playing past Sept. 20 this season due to state association rules, the two still work out together. The Alabama-bound wideout rated Hoggins as “arguably the county’s best one-on-one defender” to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Greatness Future: Somewhat under-appreciated in the collegiate ranks because of his stature, Hoggins’ recruitment has picked up steam as his interception totals have ballooned. In fact, the University of Texas reportedly joined the bandwagon just last week.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade State Football Player of the Year races aren’t over, and the National POY race is now heating up. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Check back for daily updates on the top contenders making their case.