The prestigious Gatorade National Football Player of the Year Award for the 2020-21 high school football season is coming down to three quarterbacks. On Thursday, it was announced that Jaxson Dart of Corner Canyon (Utah), Brock Vandagriff of Prince Avenue Christian (Georgia) and Malachi Nelson of Los Alamitos (California) are the finalists for the 36th annual honor.
Dart, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior quarterback passed for 4,691 yards and 67 touchdowns this past season, leading Corner Canyon to a 14-0 record and the Class 6A state championship. The Chargers finished No. 15 in the High School Football America 100 national rankings powered by BlackMP Living Water.
Dart completed 240 of 345 passes, throwing just four interceptions, while also rushing for 1,195 yards and 12 TDs on 128 carries. The MaxPreps National Player of the Year, he was also selected Mr. Football by the Deseret News. Dart was ranked as the nation’s No. 19 recruit in the Class of 2021 by ESPN.
Dart will play his college football at USC.
Vandagriff, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior quarterback led the Prince Avenue Christian School to a 13-1 record and the Class 1A Private state championship this past season. He passed for 4,169 yards and 46 touchdowns, completing 252 of 356 passes and throwing just seven interceptions. He also rushed for 503 yards and 17 TDs on 104 carries.
The future Georgia Bulldog was the Atlanta Journal Constitution Player of the Year and the Class 1A Private Offensive Player of the Year. He was named Mr. Georgia by the Touchdown Club of Atlanta and was selected High School Quarterback of the Year by the National Quarterback Club. Vandagriff was also a finalist for the All-American Bowl Adidas Player of the Year. Vandagriff was ranked as the nation’s No. 7 recruit by Rivals.com.
Nelson, who will be a junior this fall, led the Griffins to a 6-0 record this past season. He passed for 1,513 yards and 23 touchdowns, completing 73.9% of his throws, averaging an astounding 13.2 yards per attempt. He threw for 376 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns in one half against Huntington Beach High.
A 2020 MaxPreps Sophomore All-American, Nelson was the Golden Gun Accuracy Challenge winner at the Elite 11 Los Angeles Regional last June. He is ranked as the nation’s No. 2 recruit in the Class of 2023 by Rivals.
The award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.
Past Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award winners have won six NFL MVP awards and appeared in 31 Pro Bowls. Six winners have been taken in the first round of the NFL Draft and two have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.