A dedicated ESPNHS POY team managed the Gatorade State Football Player of the Year selection process, resulting in this winner based on the awards program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character. For his 50 fellow Gatorade State Football Player of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Cooper Rush
THE BASICS: Anatomy of a POY
School: Lansing Catholic (Lansing, Mich.)
Weight: 220 pounds
THE PILLARS: Gatorade criteria
Athletic achievement: Rush completed 242-of-357 attempts for 3,958 yards and 48 touchdowns this past season, leading the Cougars (12-1) to the Division 5 state championship game. A preseason First Team All-State selection as named by ESPNHS, Rush also ran for 766 yards and 16 touchdowns on 123 carries. In a 61-13 state quarterfinal victory against Dowagiac (Mich.), he broke two state records -- most touchdown passes in a half (5) and for a game (8) -- and tied two others, throwing 20 straight completions and seven first-half touchdown passes.
Academic excellence: Rush has maintained a 3.96 GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating his time as a peer tutor and serving as head of the Youth Action Committee of the Capital Region Community Foundation, Rush has volunteered locally on behalf of the hospital, a preschool, Catholic Charities, Hospice of Charlotte, Rotary Club of Charlotte, Eaton County Clothing and Furniture repair and Battle Creek River cleanup efforts.
THE PRAISE: Chris Curtiss, head coach of rival Corunna (Mich.)
“Cooper Rush is an outstanding football player. I watched him as a sophomore on the varsity, and have coached against him the past two years. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with his progress and improvement as a player. I have coached some very good quarterbacks and coached against All-State QBs in the past, and I can’t think of one who throws the ball with the combination of velocity and accuracy like he does. The records speak for themselves, but his success comes from more than just his talent. He is a very mature young man and has handled the success very well.”
THE FUTURE: Collegiate destination
Rush has verbally committed to play football on an athletic scholarship at Central Michigan University beginning in the fall of 2012.