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: Kenyan Drake
THE BASICS: Anatomy of a POY
School: Hillgrove (Powder Springs, Ga.)
Position: Running back
Weight: 205 pounds
THE PILLARS: Gatorade criteria
Athletic achievement: Drake rushed for 1,610 yards and 18 touchdowns on 173 carries this past season, leading the Hawks to the second round of the Class AAAAA postseason. A preseason First Team All-State selection as named by ESPNHS, he also hauled in 24 receptions for 315 yards and five touchdowns. On special teams, Drake returned 10 kickoffs for 355 yards and two scores. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super 11 selection, he totaled 1,600 yards and 20 touchdowns rushing and receiving as a junior in 2010.
Academic excellence: Also a baseball standout, Drake has maintained a 3.23 weighted GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: Drake has volunteered year-round as a baseball and football instructor at local youth camps.
THE PRAISE: Shane Queen, head coach of rival North Cobb (Kennesaw, Ga.)
“Drake is a great young man with tremendous work ethic and drive. He is one of the best players that I have coached against in 18 years. He is a man of great character and does well in the classroom. If there is a better young man, player or role model, I would love to see him.”
THE FUTURE: Collegiate destination
Drake has verbally committed to play football on an athletic scholarship at the University of Alabama beginning in the fall of 2012.