Gatorade announced its annual Player of the Year awards for each state on Tuesday and Hueytown quarterback Earl Woods got the honors for Alabama. Woods is the second football player from Hueytown to win the award, following in the footsteps of former Golden Gopher and current New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Now, Woods is a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award to be announced later this month.
Woods led Hueytown to a 13-2 overall record, winning the Class 6A Region 4 title and making the program's first ever appearance in a state championship game. Woods completed 171-of-302 passes for 3,072 yards and 32 touchdowns. On the ground, Woods rushed for 2,123 yards and 35 scores on 314 carries. He had 10 games with multiple TD passes or TD runs, including six games with both.
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According to Gatorade's release, Woods has volunteered locally at an elementary school and as a youth football coach. He has also donated his time to multiple community beautification projects. “Earl is, hands down, the best player we have seen this year,” Aryvia Holmes, head coach of McAdory High School, said of Woods. “Anytime you get a QB that can beat you with his arm and legs, they are basically unstoppable. You think you can contain him, but he is so fast and elusive that he makes the first guy miss every time.”
Through Gatorade’s “Play it Forward” platform,Woodshas the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national organization of their choosing that helps young athletes realize the benefits of playing sports. Woods is also eligible to submit a short video explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $3.5 million across more than 1,300 organizations.