USA TODAY High School Sports is naming the ALL-USA Coach of the Year, Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, First and Second Team Offense and First and Second Team Defense for football.
The team was chosen by the USA TODAY Sports staff in consultation with high school coaches and recruiting analysts.
OFFENSIVE POY: Bryce Young, Mater Dei
DEFENSIVE POY: Justin Flowe, Upland
COACH OF THE YEAR: Reginald Samples, Duncanville
School: Upland (California)
With incredible burst, Justin Flowe gets to the ball in a flash. With hits as hard as anyone in the country, the ball handler rarely stands a chance.
Preventing Flowe from getting to the backfield takes more than one person; escaping him in the middle of the field is a difficult feat to accomplish.
The Upland (California) linebacker had 123 tackles this season to go with 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in 11 games. He had 13 quarterback hurries, an interception and five forced fumbles. He had a blocked punt and a blocked field goal.
Flowe, the No. 4 player in the Chosen 25, is the 2019 ALL-USA Football Defensive Player of the Year.
“I’m just trying to be the best I can be because you only get one chance at high school,” he said shortly after receiving his All-American Bowl jersey in November.
“I just want to make sure I just take advantage of all my opportunities, and don’t be complacent. Don’t be complacent about anything.”
Listed at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Flowe still has the speed to get to the ball carrier quickly. His level of physicality is elite. Flowe’s highlight reel is full of plays in which he bursts into the backfield on the snap, leveling opponents in the middle and even tossing a running back to the ground like a rag doll.
Upland’s (CA) 5-star linebacker @justin_flowe is the most savage dude I ever seen play high school football.
— Zack Poff (@Zack_Poff_MP) December 12, 2019
He was also occasionally involved in the offense, getting 23 carries for 238 yards and five touchdowns, including a 98-yard touchdown run.
“Whenever they need a big play, you know, whenever we’re backed up or something like that, they’ll throw me in at running back,” Flowe said. “I just try to be a playmaker.”
He played both through middle school before deciding to stick with linebacker.
“When I was little I played running back and linebacker,” he said. “I guess I just fell in love with (linebacker) when I was in middle school years.”
It was clearly the right decision. Flowe was named the Butkus Award winner this season for top linebacker in the country. Stats jump off the page.
Against 11-1 Mission Viejo (California), which is one of the best teams in the country, Flowe had 15 tackles and two tackles for loss. In that game vs. Etiwanda (California) with the 98-yard touchdown, he had five tackles for loss. Against Central Catholic (Modesto, California), he had three forced fumbles in one game.
He said it comes instinctively.
“I’ve been playing linebacker my whole life,” Flowe said. “I’ve been doing this a long time. I just play real aggressive, that’s my game.”
Now, he’s onto Oregon, where he will join the 2018 ALL-USA Football Defensive Player of the Year, Kayvon Thibodeaux.
By getting the commitments of the Defensive Player of the Years in back-to-back years, Oregon’s defense has the talent to be among the best in the country.
Flowe, after a dominant high school career, looks to be ready to make an impact immediately.
LOOKBACK: 2018-19 ALL-USA Offensive Football Team