Julian Fleming of Southern Columbia High School (Pennsylvania), Arik Gilbert of Marietta High School (Georgia) and Bryce Young of Mater Dei High School (California) are the three finalists for the prestigious Gatorade National Player of the Year Award.
In its 35th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, Gatorade’s award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.
Fleming, who Friday afternoon will play in the Pennsylvania Class 2A state championship game, has given his verbal commitment to Ohio State. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior wide receiver and defensive back has led the Tigers to a 15-0 record this season. Fleming is the state’s returning Gatorade Football Player of the Year.
So far this season, Fleming has caught 68 passes for 1,448 yards and 21 touchdowns. He is Pennsylvania’s career record holder for touchdown receptions and receiving yards. Fleming ranked as the nation’s No. 4 overall recruit in the Class of 2020 by ESPN and has been selected to play in the 2020 Under Armour All-America Game.
Below you can listen to Fleming’s coach Jim Roth talk about his star player on the High School Football America Podcast.
Like Fleming, Gilbert has taken his team deep into the postseason. Friday, the 6-foot-5, 255-pound senior tight end and his teammates will face Parkview in a battle of highly-ranked High School Football America 100 teams. Marietta enters the game No. 12 in the nation, while Parkview is No. 21.
Gilbert, who has verbally committed to LSU, has caught 81 passes for 1,436 yards and 12 touchdowns through 13 games. A two-time All-State honoree, he was also named Region 3 Offensive Player of the Year as a junior and has been selected to play in the 2020 All-American Bowl.
Gilbert is ranked as the nation’s No. 1 tight end prospect in the Class of 2020 by ESPN and Rivals, and No. 11 in the country regardless of position by Rivals.
Young closed-out his career last weekend as one of Mater Dei’s all-time great quarterbacks. Last season, the Alabama verbal commit, led the Monarchs to a second straight High School Football America “mythical” national championship. The Monarchs spent the entire 2019 season at No. 1 in our rankings before losing to St. John Bosco (California) last weekend, which dropped the team to No. 2 in our Top 100.
The 6-foot, 190-pound senior passed for 4,528 yards and 58 touchdowns this past season. Young also rushed for 357 yards and 10 scores, and he tossed 19 TD passes in three postseason games.
The 2018 MaxPreps National Junior of the Year, Young has been selected to play in the All-American Bowl next month in San Antonio. He concluded his prep football career with 13,250 passing yards and 152 touchdowns.
The three finalists join an elite group of past state football award-winners, including Emmitt Smith (1986-87, Escambia High School, Fla.), Matthew Stafford (2005-06 Highland Park High School, Texas) and Christian McCaffrey (2012-13, 2013-14, Valor Christian High School, Colo.).
The winner will be announced in the coming weeks.