For the list of the other 2014 Gatorade State Football POYs, click here
THE WINNER: C.J. Johnson
School: Bellevue (Neb.) West
Position: Wide receiver
Weight: 185 pounds
Athletic achievement: He hauled in 63 receptions for 1,214 yards and 20 touchdowns this season, leading the Thunderbirds (6-4) to a Class A state playoff berth. Also a prolific kick returner on special teams, Johnson returned four kickoffs for 91 yards and a touchdown as well as seven punts for 131 yards and a score. He owns Class A single-season and career records for receptions and receiving yards in addition to the Class A mark for career receiving touchdowns. Johnson’s 3,548 career receiving yards also constitute an all-class state record. The son of 1990-91 Gatorade Football Player of the Year Clester Johnson, he completes the first father-son football combination in the program history, according to Gatorade archives.
Academic excellence: Also a basketball standout, Johnson has maintained a 4.55 GPA on a 5.0 scale.
Exemplary character: Twice selected by faculty to attend Bellevue Public Schools’ youth leadership retreat, he has also volunteered on behalf of his church, the Open Door Mission, a youth literacy-outreach program and Distributive Education Clubs of America. He also completed a service-mission trip to Chicago.
“We are glad to see him go, because he was the No. 1 factor in beating us the last three years,” said Jerry Lovell, head coach of rival Bellevue East. “You had to account for him the whole game, especially on special teams, even though he was fighting through a bad shoulder all year. He’s a good kid, too.”
THE FUTURE: Johnson has verbally committed to Wyoming.