Mater Dei’s J.T. Daniels named Gatorade National Player of the Year

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Quarterback J.T. Daniels, who guided Mater Dei to High School Football America’s “mythical” national championship over the weekend, is the 2017 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year.   The USC-recruit, who still has his senior season ahead of him in 2018, passed for 4,123 yards and 52 TDs this year.  On Saturday, Daniels and his teammates closed-out a perfect 15-0 season by winning California’s Open Division championship.

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson surprised Daniels with the news of the award Tuesday afternoon.

“JT really deserves to be this year’s Gatorade National Football Player of the Year because he represents everything the award stands for,” said Watson. “Not only has JT excelled on the field, but he’s also a good student and a positive role model in the community. I’m excited to follow his career and watch all the things he will accomplish in the future.”

Daniels has maintained a weighted 4.18 GPA in the classroom. He has volunteered as part of Mater Dei’s Monarchs for Marines program supporting the troops and families of the First Marine Division stationed at nearby Camp Pendleton. He has also donated his time locally delivering care backpacks to the homeless and as a youth football coach.

As a part of Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Daniels also has the opportunity to award a $1,000grant to a local or national youth sports organization of his choosing. He is also eligible to win one of twelve $10,000spotlight grants for his organization of choice, which will be announced throughout the year.

Daniels is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.

Daniels is the second quarterback from Mater Dei to win the prestigious Gatorade Award. Matt Barkley won the award in 2007.

Gatorade National High School Football Player of the Year

2016 – Tate Martell – Bishop Gorman (Nevada)

2015 – Jacob Eason – Lake Stevens (Washington)

2014 – Kyler Murray – Allen (Texas)

2013 – Andrew Brown – Oscar Smith (Virginia)

2012 – Max Brown – Skyline (Washington)

2011 – Johnathan Gray – Aledo (Texas)

2010 – Justin Worley – Northwestern (South Carolina)

2009 – Malcolm Jones – Oaks Christian (California)

2008 – Garrett Gilbert – Lake Travis (Texas)

2007 – Matt Barkley – Mater Dei (California)

2006 – John Brantley – Trinity Catholic (Florida)

2005 – Mitch Mustain – Springdale (Arkansas)

2004 – Jeff Byers – Loveland (Colorado)

2003 – Kyle Wright – Monte Vista (California)

2002 – Lorenzo Booker – St. Bonaventure (California)

2001 – Joe Mauer – Cretin-Derham Hall (Minnesota)

2000 – Brock Berlin – Evangel Christian (Louisiana)

1999 – Chris Lewis – Long Beach Poly (California)

1998 – Ronald Curry – Hampton (Virginia)

1997 – Travis Minor – Catholic (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

1996 – Tim Couch – Leslie County (Kentucky)

1995 – Brock Huard – Puyallup (Washington)

1994 – Peyton Manning – Isadore Newman (Louisiana)

1993 – Ron Powlus – Berwick (Pennsylvania)

1992 – Chris Walsh – Cretin-Derham Hall (Minnesota)

1991 – Marquette Smith – Lake Howell (Florida)

1990 – Robert Smith – Euclid (Ohio)

1989 – Terry Kirby – Tabb (Virginia)

1988 – Curtis Bray – Gateway (Pennsylvania)

1987 – Emmitt Smith – Escambia (Florida)

1986 – Jeff George – Warren Central (Indiana)

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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.