VIDEO & STORY -- Gatorade is donating $1,000 in the name of Smyrna High's Will Knight, the Gatorade Delaware Football Player of the Year, to the youth sports organization Knight selected, the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with intellectual disabilities (DFRC).
In its 33rd year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, the Gatorade Company has selected Will Knight of Smyrna High School as the 2017-18 Gatorade Delaware Football Player of the Year.
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, distinguishes Knight as Delaware’s best high school football player.
As a Gatorade Player of the Year, Knight gets to select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a grant as part of the Gatorade Play It Forward program. Every Gatorade Player of the Year state winner receives a $1,000 grant to donate and will have the opportunity to enter for an additional $10,000 spotlight grant by writing a brief essay explaining why their selected organization deserves additional support.
Knight has selected the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with intellectual disabilities (DFRC) which organizes fundraisers like the Blue-Gold All-Star football game. DFRC donates proceeds to non-profit organizations and agencies that enrich the lives of Delaware citizens with intellectual disabilities from infancy through adulthood in all three counties.
Today, Jan. 10, at Smyrna High School, Knight formally announced his selection of the DFRC to receive the $1,000 grant, and representatives from DFRC thanked Knight and presented him with a Blue-Gold football t-shirt.
Knight is the second straight Gatorade Delaware Football Player of the Year to be chosen from Smyrna High School after Nolan Henderson was honored last year.
Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award to be announced in December, Knight joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Mitchell Trubisky (2012-13, Mentor High School, Ohio), Greg Olsen (2002-03, Wayne Hills High School, N.J.), Matthew Stafford (2005-06 Highland Park High School, Texas), Harrison Smith (2006-07 Knoxville Catholic High School, Tenn.), Latavius Murray (2007-08, Onondaga High School, N.Y.), Brock Osweiler (2008-09, Flathead High School, Mont.) and Leonard Fournette (2014-15 & 2012-13, St. Augustine High School, La.).
The 5-foot-9, 205-pound senior running back rushed for 2,164 yards and 32 touchdowns on 217 carries this past season, leading the Eagles to a 10-2 record and their third straight Division I state championship. Knight also caught 10 passes for 229 yards. A three-time First Team All-State selection, he finished with a state-record 6,490 yards rushing in his high school career.
Knight has served as a peer mentor in his school and has volunteered locally on behalf of the Special Olympics and an elementary school reading initiative.
“Knight is one of the best I’ve ever coached against,” said Rudy Simonetti, head coach at Dover High. “The kid is a flat-out beast. He can run, he can catch, he can throw, he’s physical and he can block; he’s a true football player.”
Knight has maintained a B average in the classroom. He has received a scholarship to play football at Old Dominion University.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Knight joins recent Gatorade Delaware Football Players of the Year including:
Nolan Henderson (2016-17, Smyrna High School),
Colby Reeder (2015-16, Salesianum School),
Taronn Selby (2014-15, St. Georges Technical High School),
Darius Wade (2013-14, Middletown High School),
Chris Godwin (2012-13, Middletown High School),
Jamie Jarmon (2011–12, Indian River High School),
Ryan Kilpatrick (2010-11, Salesianum School),
C. J. Jones (2009-10, A.I. duPont High School).
For more on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information, a complete list of past winners and the announcement of the Gatorade National Player of the Year, visit http://playeroftheyear.gatorade.com/.