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Meet SBLive's national high school football players of the year in 2021-22

Here are 20 high school football players from 20 states who had a season worthy of national recognition.
Drew Allar photo by Ryan Isley

Drew Allar photo by Ryan Isley

We've officially shifted from the 2021-22 high school sports season to the 2022-23 preseason, so it's time to look back on the stars of the past fall, winter and spring seasons before we start looking ahead to who's next.

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

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 stars nationally in boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls 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 amassed 93 tackles, including 29 for loss, plus 10 sacks and 27 quarterback hurries as a senior at Thompson, which won the state title. The five-star prospect chose Alabama as one of the top-rated edge rushers in the country.

Arizona: Nicco Marchiol, QB, Hamilton, sr.

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

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

Himon helped Pulaski Academy to its third straight 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 points scored by a non-quarterback (624), and fourth in career 100-yard rushing games (25). His senior year, Himon surpassed 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 commit, caught 88 passes for 1,302 yards and 18 touchdowns this fall. But what separated him from the competition was his play on defense. Lining up as a defensive back for the first time in his career, McMillan snagged eight interceptions and made 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 his senior year, rushing for 100-plus yards in nine games. The Utah signee broke the Lake Gibson record for single-game rushing touchdowns in 2021, scoring seven on 21 carries and 295 yards in a playoff game.

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

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

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

The top-ranked wide receiver in the nation caught 71 passes for 1,174 yards and 20 touchdowns in his senior season. The Missouri signee also was 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 in Indiana, plus 149 career touchdown passes.

Louisiana: Eli Holstein, QB, Zachary, jr.

During his junior season in 2021, 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 more than 2,500 yards and scored 42 touchdowns, and as a safety he made 85 total tackles and 13 tackles for loss. The Nebraska signee was 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 only three interceptions, plus ran for 1,258 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. He previously committed to Southern Miss to play baseball, but recently flipped to Alabama for football. His athleticism could end up making him as a safety or wide receiver for the Crimson Tide.

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

Coleman did it all for St. Mary’s in its 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 1,000-plus yards,” Coleman told of his 2022 season goals. “I’m going to be that difference-maker in that offense, and I feel like a lot of schools won't want to play us anymore." 

Nevada: Zachariah Branch, WR, Bishop Gorman, jr.

As a junior, Branch helped Bishop Gorman to the 5A state championship. The top-rated junior wide receiver in the country and USC commit 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 its only loss coming to eventual state champion St. Edward in the regional final.

Oklahoma: Braylin Presley, RB, Bixby, sr.

The Spartans were so dominant that Presley didn't see plenty of action this season, playing in only 19 quarters. But he was able 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 in all four of his 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 be playing 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 touchdowns total.

Tennessee: Walter Nolen, DT, Powell, sr.

Nolen piled up 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 TD passes on 189-of-265 completions, plus 471 rushing yards with 12 TDs. The top-ranked senior quarterback in the nation in 2021 has gotten off to a strong start with Clemson this spring.

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

The Eastern Washington commit did about everything you can 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 the 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 game, which gave the program a season-ending No. 7 national ranking. "He is a game-maker," Eagles coach Eric Kurle said.