Meet SBLive’s National High School Football Players of the Year in 2021-22

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Photo of Drew Allar by Ryan Isley

We’ve officially transitioned from the 2021-22 high school sports season into the 2022-23 preseason, so it’s time to take a look back at the stars of the past fall, winter, and spring seasons before we start looking towards who’s next.

We started by highlighting some of the players of the year in volleyball, and now it’s the turn of the best football players.

Vote now: Who was the National High School Volleyball Player of the Year in 2021-22?

Over the next few weeks, we’ll also be featuring the top national stars in men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s track and field, softball and baseball.

Here are 20 high school football players who had a season worthy of national recognition.

Alabama: Jeremiah Alexander, DE, Thompson, sr.

Alexander had 93 tackles, including 29 for loss, plus 10 sacks and 27 rushed quarterbacks as a senior at state title-winning Thompson. The five-star prospect picked Alabama as one of the top rushers in the nation.

Arizona: Nicco Marchiol, QB, Hamilton, sr.

Marchiol became the first Hamilton High School athlete to be named Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year after passing a school-record 2,690 yards and 37 touchdowns as a senior. The West Virginia signee completed 74.4% of his passes and also rushed for 369 yards and six touchdowns.

Arkansas: Joe Himon, RB, Pulaski Academy, sr.

Himon helped Pulaski Academy win its third consecutive Class 5A state championship last month, the school’s seventh title in eight seasons. He is second all-time in state history in offensive yards by a non-quarterback (7,602), first in total runs scored by a non-quarterback (624), and fourth in career 100-yard rushing games (25). In his senior year, Himon passed for 2,336 all-purpose yards, which ranked in the Top 5 nationally, with 40 touchdowns.

California: Tetairoa McMillan, WR/DB, Servite, sr.

McMillan, an Oregon draftee, caught 88 passes for 1,302 yards and 18 touchdowns this fall. But what separated him from the competition was his defensive play. Lined up as a defensive back for the first time in his career, McMillan had eight interceptions and 35 tackles.

Florida: Jaylon Glover, RB, Lake Gibson, sr.

Glover, the Class 6A player of the year, had 272 carries for 2,073 yards and 26 touchdowns in his senior year, rushing for more than 100 yards in nine games. The Utah signee broke Lake Gibson’s record for single-game rushing touchdowns in 2021, scoring seven goals on 21 carries and 295 yards in a playoff game.

Georgia: Travis Hunter, WR/DB, Collins Hill, sr.

Hunter missed a few games with an ankle injury but completely dominated on both sides of the ball while healthy. He really turned it on in the playoffs, leading Collins Hill to his first state championship by being a big-play machine on offense and a locked-in cornerback on defense. He shocked the recruiting world on signing day when he moved from Florida State to Jackson State.

Illinois: Luther Burden III, WR, East St. Louis, sr.

The nation’s top-ranked wide receiver caught 71 passes for 1,174 yards and 20 touchdowns during his senior season. The Missouri signee was also a big-play machine on special teams, returning 21 punts on the season for 852 yards and eight touchdowns.

Indiana: Brady Allen, QB, Gibson Southern, sr.

Gibson’s 4,253 passing yards during his senior season marked the third-most in Indiana high school history. The Purdue signee finished his high school career with 11,918 yards, ranking second all-time at Indiana, plus 149 career touchdown passes.

Louisiana: Eli Holstein, QB, Zachary, Jr.

During his 2021 junior season, Holstein completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 3,228 yards and 30 touchdowns with six interceptions while leading Zachary High School to a 15-0 record and a Class 5A title. Between Holstein and Arch Manning, Louisiana will be loaded at quarterback in 2022.

Minnesota: Emmett Johnson, RB/S, Academy of Holy Angels, sr.

As a senior, Johnson rushed for over 2,500 yards and scored 42 touchdowns, and as a safety he had 85 total tackles and 13 tackles for loss. The Nebraska signee has been named Mr. Football by the Minnesota Football Coaches Association.

Mississippi: Brayson Hubbard, QB, Ocean Springs, Jr.

Hubbard passed for 2,069 yards with 30 touchdowns and just three interceptions, in addition to rushing for 1,258 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. He once signed up with Southern Miss to play baseball, but that could change with another big football season as a senior. His athleticism has caused some schools to consider him a safety or wide receiver in college.

Missouri: Kevin Coleman Jr., St. Mary’s (St. Louis), sr.

Coleman did it all for St. Mary’s in their state championship winning year, racking up 29 touchdowns with 1,993 all-purpose yards. He heads to Jackson State with big goals. “I want to be a freshman All-American, with over 1,000 yards,” Coleman told si.com his goals for the 2022 season. “I’m going to make a difference in this attack, and I feel like a lot of schools won’t want to play us anymore.”

Nevada: Branch of Zachariah, WR, Bishop Gorman, Jr.

As a junior, Branch helped Bishop Gorman win the 5A State Championship. The nation’s top-rated junior wide receiver and USC commitment had 48 catches for 1,094 yards and 14 touchdowns, plus two punt returns for touchdowns.

Ohio: Drew Allar, QB, Medina, sr.

Allar completed 305 of 509 passes for 4,444 yards and 48 touchdowns to go along with just seven interceptions. The Penn State signee also rushed for 382 yards and nine touchdowns, leading Medina to a 13-1 season, with his only loss to eventual state champion St. Edward in the Regional Finals.

Oklahoma: Braylin Presley, RB, Bixby, sr.

The Spartans were so dominant that Presley didn’t see much action this season, playing in just 19 quarters. But he managed to rush for 1,109 yards while catching 56 passes for 665 yards, scoring 25 total touchdowns. The Oklahoma State signee won a state championship during his four years at Bixby.

Pennsylvania: Nick Singleton, RB, Governor Mifflin, sr.

The 6-foot, 215-pound running back rushed for 2,043 yards and 41 touchdowns on 165 carries last season, leading Governor Mifflin (10-1) to the district championship game. The top-ranked running back in the Class of 2022 will play for Penn State in the fall.

South Carolina: Antonio Williams, WR, Dutch Fork, sr.

Williams had 85 catches for 1,625 yards (including 10 100-yard receiving games) and 15 touchdowns as well as 16 carries for 195 rushing yards in 2021. The Clemson signee added 12 punt returns for 365 yards and scored at least one touchdown in every game. for 20 total touchdowns.

Tennessee: Walter Nolen, DT, Powell, sr.

Nolen had 93 tackles, 33 for loss and 17 sacks as a senior at Powell and signed with Texas A&M as ESPN’s top prospect in the nation (No. 2 by 247Sports and Rivals). He led Powell to a 13-2 record and a Class 5A state championship.

Texas: Cade Klubnik, QB, Austin Westlake, sr.

The Clemson signee had 3,251 passing yards and 43 touchdowns on 189 of 265 completions, plus 471 rushing yards with 12 touchdowns. The nation’s top-ranked senior quarterback in 2021 has got off to a good start with Clemson this spring.

Washington: Joshua Wood, QB, Graham-Kapowsin, sr.

Eastern Washington commitment did everything you could in high school — a perfect 20-0 career record as a starter, leading the Eagles to the school’s first-ever Class 4A state title and being named Gatorade State Player of the Year (2,496 passing yards, 613 rushing yards, 45 total touchdowns). If that wasn’t enough, he then showcased his dual-threat talent on national television in Graham-Kapowsin’s thrilling victory over nationally ranked Collins Hill (Ga.) in the GEICO State Champions Bowl match. which gave the program a season-ending No. 7 national rankings. “He’s a game maker,” Eagles coach Eric Kurle said.

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