For the past 30 years, Gatorade has honored the nation’s most elite high school athletes for their athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character with the Gatorade Player of the Year award. On July 14, the 12 Gatorade National Players of the Year from the 2014-15 season will gather in Hollywood, where the 13th annual Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year award will be presented to the best overall male and female athlete.
In the days leading to the presentation, USA TODAY High School Sports will profile each of the 12 candidates — six boys and six girls.
Kyler Murray finished his high school career with three state championships, three state finals MVP awards, and without losing as the starting quarterback at Allen, Texas.
Murray came to Allen as a sophomore transfer and within a week, he was named the starter.
“I’ve always had confidence in my abilities,” he said. “When I came here, I knew the quarterback situation. I was the backup and I was hoping I’d have a chance to compete for an opportunity to be a starter, and I was fortunate enough to make that happen.”
As a senior, he threw for 4,715 yards and 54 touchdowns with only seven interceptions, leading the Eagles to a 16-0 record and the Class 6A Division I title. A returning First Team American Family Insurance ALL-USA selection by USA TODAY Sports, Murray also rushed for 1,498 yards and 25 touchdowns on 151 carries.
“I can’t even imagine how it feels for Kyler because I was a late bloomer and never won any awards,” said Brandon Carr, 28, the Dallas Cowboys’ starting left corner who presented the Gatorade award to Murray in the fall. “The sacrifice and dedication required to even aim for winning an award like this, I mean, of all the guys in the country who dream of winning this and who are gunning for it, and he wins it. I’m honored to be a part of it and I’ve been struck by his humility and grace.”
Of all those victories, only eight came at Allen’s home stadium because of structural issues.
“We knew going in that we wouldn’t be playing in our stadium this year and we committed to making the most of it,” he said. “It has made us a stronger team, for sure. Then again, most people don’t have it as good as we do here at Allen. On Friday nights, the town shuts down. We’re on the road, but our fans make us feel at home. When 17,000 people follow you to your games, it feels like a home game.”
Murray has maintained a B-plus average in the classroom. In addition to donating his time as a youth football instructor, he has volunteered locally as part of the Reading with the Eagles youth literacy-outreach and anti-bullying program. An active participant in Nike’s Night of Champions program supporting youth empowerment through athletics, he also serves as a mentor to several student team managers with special needs.
“For me, the best high school quarterback in the country this year is Kyler Murray,” said Brandon Huffman, National Recruiting Director for Scout.com. “For what he’s done—playing at the classification he’s playing at and playing in Texas—that’s pretty unbelievable. He does everything you want a high school quarterback to do, but he also has the skills to translate at the next level.”