UCLA-bound Malcolm Jones of Oaks Christian High has been selected the Gatorade national player of the year in football. The official announcement is scheduled for this morning at the Westlake Village campus.
Joe Mauer, the American League MVP from the Minnesota Twins who was the Gatorade football player of the year in 2000-01, was expected to surprise Jones in his fourth-period class with the news.
Jones, a running back-linebacker, has scored 109 touchdowns in his four-year prep career. This season, he has rushed for 2,156 yards, putting him 40 yards short of tying the single-season school record held by Marc Tyler. He has 36 touchdowns and is nearing 6,000 yards rushing in his career.
The award is the same one given to USC freshman quarterback Matt Barkley two years ago when he was a junior at Santa Ana Mater Dei. Peyton Manning, Emmitt Smith and Jeff George are among the past recipients in the 25-year history of the award.
"There are a lot of great players in the country," Oaks Christian Coach Bill Redell said. "Malcolm Jones is certainly in that category, and when you combine academics, athletics and character, he should be at the top of the list."
Jones was earlier named the Gatorade state player of the year. He becomes a finalist for the Gatorade male athlete of the year, which will be announced next summer.
The award is based on athletics, academics and contributions off the field. A school assembly is scheduled for this afternoon, where Jones will be given the player-of-the-year trophy.
He has led Oaks Christian to a 13-0 record entering Friday's Northwest Division championship game against Gardena Serra and has played on three consecutive section championship teams.
He has announced he will sign with UCLA in February, which makes him the first Gatorade national football player of the year to join the Bruins.