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: Davonte Neal
THE BASICS: Anatomy of a POY
School: Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
Position: Running back/wide receiver/kick returner
Weight: 175 pounds
THE PILLARS: Gatorade criteria
Athletic achievement: The state’s returning Gatorade Football Player of the Year, Neal led the Firebirds to a 14-1 record and the Division II state championship this past season. He rushed for 1,317 yards and 16 touchdowns on 100 carries and caught 62 passes for 1,113 yards and 14 touchdowns. Neal also averaged 39.4 yards on kickoff returns, returning three for touchdowns, and 26.6 yards on punt returns, with two scores. The 2010 Arizona Republic State Player of the Year, he is the No. 29 rated recruit in the Class of 2012 by ESPNU.
Academic excellence: Neal has maintained a B average in the classroom.
Exemplary character: Neal has volunteered locally as a middle school mentor and as a youth football coach.
THE PRAISE: Steve Casey, head coach of rival Horizon (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
“Davonte Neal is the guy you need to know where he is at all times. He can hurt you as a receiver, running back and quarterback in the Wildcat formation and that is just on offense. He is also a very good cover guy and a great returner.”
THE FUTURE: Collegiate destination
Neal remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.
THE FEATURE: ESPNHS Magazine
"Dynamic duo Connor Brewer and Davonte Neal share desire to win"