In 2000, KATV sports director Steve Sullivan and Little Rock auto magnate Steve Landers got together to honor the state’s top high school football player with the Landers Award. Twenty years later, the pair is still honoring players, and the award has become the state’s premier high school football honor with its 30-minute live television special, a ring and shiny trophy. All great prep players in our state aspire to win this, and the list of honorees since its inception is impressive. I have been honored to be included for several years in a group of media that votes on the award.
As Sullivan prepares for his most unique show yet with no honorees in the studio due to COVID-19, I took a deep dive into the award. Earlier this week I ranked the past 20 honorees for scorebooklive.
As I dissected each honoree, I uncovered more and more interesting facts. Below is a look at the award by the numbers. There’s some interesting stuff here. I hope you enjoy and will join me in tuning in to KATV Thursday at 6:30 p.m. to see who wins the 2020 award.
The number of award winners from east Arkansas. Standout West Memphis High School running back and eventual Arkansas running back De’Arrius Howard became the first award winner in 2000.
The number of wide receivers that have won the award. Springdale’s Damian Williams, who beat out Parade All-American quarterback teammate Mitch Mustain for the award in 2005, and future Hogs star Drew Morgan of Greenwood in 2012. As you would expect, the quarterback position leads the way with 13 Landers wins.
The number of honorees Greenwood has which is tops for one team in the award’s history. Former Hog quarterback Tyler Wilson started the run in 2007. The aforementioned Morgan won it in 2012 and quarterback Connor Noland, who started a football career with Arkansas but is now concentrating on baseball, was the 2017 winner. Incidentally, only one other program has had two winners – Pulaski Academy. Bruins signal callers Spencer Keith (2008) and Fredi Knighten (2011) both took home trophies.
The number of times University of Arkansas commits who have won the award. Not every winner that committed to Arkansas stayed there, but at the time of winning they were committed. Arkansas State has signed two Landers Award winners. Other Division I schools that Landers Award winners have committed to are Auburn, Missouri, North Carolina, Tulsa and Toledo.
The number of state titles Landers Award winners have combined for the years they’ve won the award.
The number of wins A.J. Whtimore racked up as the starting quarterback at Nashville. The University of Tulsa receiver only lost twice in his career on the way to two state titles.
The completion percentage Pulaski Academy’s Fredi Knighten recorded as a Parade All-American and Landers Award winner in 2011. He was 260-of-353 for 4,557 yards and 66 TDs.
The number of rushing yards Little Rock Christian’s Michael Dyer, who began his collegiate career at Auburn and ended it at Louisville, racked up his senior season with the Warriors. He accumulated 8,097 rushing yards in four years as a starter.
The yards of offense Morrilton’s Jacolby Cirswell, the 2019 winner and current North Carolina quarterback, racked up his senior season. He also added a combined 51 TDs.
The number of passing yards PA’s Spencer Keith passed for in 2008. That total led the country. Keith may have been one of the more underrated prospects only receiving one Division I offer to Kent State. Keith then broke the Golden Eagles’ record for passing in a career with 8,052 with 45 TDs which is second on the all-time KSU list.
Photo of Fredi Knighten from Pulaski Academy shot by Jimmy Jones