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Guyer’s Jackson Arnold Wins National Award

Sports

Guyer quarterback Jackson Arnold celebrates with the trophy for being named Gatorade's National Football Player of the Year | Image by Denton ISD

Denton Guyer High School quarterback Jackson Arnold has won the Gatorade National Player of the Year award, signifying he is the country’s best high school football player.

Arnold was presented with the award by former Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten in a surprise ceremony at Guyer High School on Thursday morning.

“I did not expect it at all,” Arnold said in a brief media session after the ceremony.

“We had our signing day ceremony this morning, and Coach Heim told me to come over here and help him move some stuff in the weight room. So, I didn’t think anything of it.”

The early graduate continued, “Sure enough, I walk in, and I see Jason Witten holding the Gatorade National Player of the Year trophy.”

“I’m still kind of processing it, too,” he explained. “Just being in that room and having Jason Witten hand me that trophy … It was a really cool experience.”

Arnold also said he got to play catch with Witten and received some advice from the former All-Pro tight end.

“He just told me to stay humble and stay grounded and keep on grinding. At the next level, everyone around you is the same talent level as you are, so grinding will help me out tremendously.”

Gatorade has given out Player of the Year awards in each state and one national award to athletes in each of 12 sports — football, volleyball, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls cross country, softball, baseball, boys and girls soccer, and boys and girls track and field — every year since 1985.

The award committee considers student-athletes based on their on-field performance, academic achievements, and character, measured through sportsmanship and community involvement.

“It’s all over social media. That’s how big of an award it is,” Arnold remarked. “Being amongst those names is a really cool experience.”

Arnold is the first Texas football player to win the national award since Allen’s Kyler Murray in 2014–15.

“It means a lot,” he told the media. “Not only Kyler’s won this but Peyton Manning, Emmitt Smith. You can go down the list. It’s a prestigious award, probably THE most prestigious award a high schooler can get. So, it means a lot.”

“It’s like a good closing to my high school story,” Arnold remarked. “So, this is probably the best wrap to my high school career and my high school experience I could get.”

The senior is one of three finalists, along with California’s Malachi Nelson and Louisiana’s Arch Manning, who signed with the University of Texas-Austin.

The five-star player committed to the University of Oklahoma will join the Sooners in a few days.

When asked about his commitment to the Sooners, Arnold said, “I’m really looking forward to it. Coach Lebby’s been excited to get me up since before the season.”

Looking forward to the new football season, Arnold said, “I’m super pumped and excited to get to work with people like Coach Lebby, and Coach Murray, and Dillon Gabriel too.”

“The reason I committed is because: a) I love the coaches, and b) I know they’re going to get the job done.”

During the press conference, Arnold was reminded of his first game as a freshman, coming off the bench against Austin Westlake in the 6A Division II state championship. His hands were shaking from nervousness as he entered the huddle.

“I think that makes this moment even more special,” Arnold said. “I used it to motivate me, and I really attribute most of my success to that game.”

The quarterback went right to work on his game following the 24–0 loss.

“I immediately went to grinding. That could have knocked me down or made me better. I chose that day to get better.”

Arnold finished his final high school season with 4,397 total yards (3,476 passing and 921 rushing) and 57 total touchdowns (33 through the air and 24 on the ground).

“I think the part I’ll miss the most is the people I did it with,” he said as he reflected on his high school career.

“I moved here when I was 10 years old. Football and baseball were really all I had,” Arnold explained.

“Being welcomed into a community like this with people I didn’t know, those people are now actually a few of my best friends. And people on the football team, I’ve been friends with and playing with up til now.”

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