While former Charger Zach Wilson has been the center of football media attention in recent months, another Corner Canyon High star quarterback with enticing NFL potential is in the national spotlight.
Jaxson Dart, who topped the nation in passing and scoring while leading CCHS to the 6A state championship last fall, has been named the 2020-2021 Gatorade National Player of the Year. He’s the first Utahn to win this award, which has been given to the likes of Emmitt Smith, Peyton Manning, and Kyler Murray.
The official announcement happened on Tuesday, May 25, at Corner Canyon where Dart was surprised with a virtual announcement from Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 pick of the 2021 NFL draft. Dart had been told that the Zoom call was for a Pac-12 interview.
“Super shocking,” said Dart, who was presented with the trophy in front of family, teammates, coaches, and friends during the meeting. “I had no idea coming into this what was going on.”
This award is more than just about the incredible performances Dart had on the football field. It recognizes academics and character both on and off the field. Dart excelled in those areas as well, earning a 3.98 GPA and graduating early so he could begin his collegiate career at USC this spring. He also donated time to the Utah Food Bank, assisted elderly people in need, and helped with clothing donation drives.
“This is the biggest award in high school sports,” Lawrence told Dart. “I like this award because it’s all-encompassing. It really speaks to the person you are. I’m super happy for you. I’m glad I was able to be a part of it.”
Dart, whose senior high school class graduates Wednesday, May 26, on the Chargers’ football field, graciously thanked Lawrence and seemed blown away by the honor.
“I always try for perfection and that’s always been something that’s pushed me,” Dart said in an interview that was included in a video Gatorade made for the announcement. “It’s opened so many doors. You’ll make friendships that last forever and experience you’ll never forget.”
Dart’s 2020 season won’t soon be forgotten, either.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound student-athlete recorded one of the greatest football seasons in Utah high school history in his only season as the Corner Canyon starter. His final passing statistics are staggering: a state-record 67 passing touchdowns, 4,691 yards through the air on 240 of 345 passing and just four interceptions.
Though he’s a pro-style quarterback, Dart showed he has exceptional athleticism by rushing for 1,195 yards and 12 touchdowns during the 14-0 Chargers’ third-straight championship season.
In doing so, Dart led the nation in passing yards, touchdowns, total yards and total TDs.
Not surprisingly, Dart was named Utah’s Mr. Football by the Deseret News. He was then named the 2020 MaxPreps National Player of the Year in January.
“He has that natural arm talent and he can rip it anywhere, and it’s really clean,” Corner Canyon coach Eric Kjar told the Deseret News. “I don’t know that he ever throws a duck.”
Dart was also named the 2020-2021 Gatorade Utah Player of the Year, making him eligible for the national prize. A panel of football experts and sports journalists selected Dart from more than a million high school football players across the nation, according to Gatorade’s official statement.
“I can’t really recall a quarterback improving from junior to senior year to the degree of Jaxson Dart, who took his game to an elite level this past fall,” Steven Wiltfong, director of recruiting for 247Sports, said in the statement.
The recruiting expert said Dart made everybody else look like they were moving in slow motion.
“Accurate to all levels of the field, he’s a strong-armed passer with a high football IQ,” Wiltfong continued. “He added a running element to his game this past season, breaking teams down when he pulled the ball down as well. I think Dart is a national championship-caliber quarterback at the next level, and I’m excited to see what he does at USC.”
Dart meets the standard of excellence of the elite previous award-winners, Gatorade Senior Vice President and General Manager Brett O’Brien noted in the statement.
“Jaxson Dart joins a list of impressive student-athletes who have won the prestigious award,” O’Brien said, “and we are confident he is headed for a lifetime of similar accomplishments.”