(WHNT) — High School Football is nearly here, meaning all over Alabama players will begin their campaigns to be the next ‘Mr. Football’ — but who was the last player from North Alabama to be named the best player in the state?
The ‘Mr. Football’ award is given out each year by a panel of sportswriters and recognizes the most outstanding football player in the state.
First started in 1982, some of the notable previous winners include Cadillac Williams, JaMarcus Russell, Julio Jones and Bo Nix. However, since the award’s inception, North Alabama has only been represented three times.
The first ‘Mr. Football’ from the area was Pierre Goode in 1985. Goode play in high school for the now closed Hazelwood High School where he helped led the Golden Bears to the 1985 1A State Championship.
It would take 29 years for another North Alabama representative to win the award when Kerryon Johnson won in 2014. Johnson, a Madison Academy product, went on to play collegiately at Auburn and professionally for the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles.
Following Johnson, the most recent winner of the award from the area is former Austin High School running back Asa Martin in 2017. He rushed for 2,228 yards and 33 touchdowns on 198 carries in the season he won the award as Austin went 12-1 and reached the Class 6A quarterfinals.
Martin is still playing college football but has made several stops in his playing career. He began his college career at Auburn but following the 2018 season, a report from Al.com alleges that the Tigers coaching staff “botched” Martin’s redshirt costing him a year of eligibility.
Following the 2018 season, Martin transferred to Miami for a short period of time before transferring to Memphis prior to the 2019 season. Martin spent four seasons at Memphis where he played in 33 games, rushing for 776 yards and 10 touchdowns.
In 2023, Martin will return to the state of Alabama and play for the Troy Trojans after transferring this offseason. Troy Head Coach Jon Sumrall feels good about Martin’s role with the Trojan running backs heading into the season.
“Asa has played a decent amount of football, just not here, and we feel good about what he’s doing,” said Sumrall.
This year’s ‘Mr. Football’ award will be handed out in January 2024 as players across North Alabama will attempt to be the region’s third overall winner.