St. Thomas More quarterback Walker Howard, already a member of LSU’s Class of 2022 as five-star football commitment, was selected Thursday as the Gatorade Player of the Year for Louisiana.
Also, incoming Class of 2021 running back signee Corey Kiner of Cincinnati’s Roger Bacon High in Cincinnati captured Ohio’s Gatorade Player of the Year.
Howard and Kiner are now finalists for the prestigious Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award to be announced before the end of May.
Howard, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior, led the Cougars to a 10-0 record and the 2020 Division II state championship. He threw for 3,430 yards and 39 touchdowns, including 381 yards and four scores in St. Thomas More’s 35-28 win over De La Salle High in the state final. The 2020 MaxPreps State Player of the Year, Howard was selected as the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class 4A Outstanding Offensive Player. He is ranked as the nation’s No. 28 recruit in the Class of 2022 by ESPN.com.
Howard has volunteered locally as a youth football coach and has maintained a B average in the classroom.
“Walker was special,” said Ryan Antoine, head coach of Westgate High. “He is a true quarterback. He can do it all—run, throw, he’s accurate, he can read a defense and he’s savvy. He had a huge impact on their success.”
Kiner, a 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior, rushed for 1,866 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2020, leading the Spartans (10-1) to the Division V state semifinals. He averaged 10.8 yards per carry and rushed for at least two scores in 10 of 11 games. The Ohio Football Coaches Association’s Mr. Football winner, Kiner also caught a touchdown pass and returned a kickoff for a score. He concluded his prep football career with 7,130 yards and 116 touchdowns on the ground. His 125 total touchdowns and 772 total points each rank third in state history.
A member of the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program, Kiner has volunteered in the Cincinnati area as a school ambassador and has donated his time as a youth football coach.
“Corey is the best football player that I have ever seen in person,” said K.C. Woods, head coach of Cincinnati Hills Christian High. “He is strong, powerful, explosive, fast and incredibly hard to tackle. It was hard not to be in awe watching him.”
Through Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Howard and Kiner have the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of their choosing. Howard is also eligible to submit a 30-second video explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $2.7 million across 1,117 organizations.
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 works with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Howard joins recent Gatorade Players of the Year from Louisiana: Christian Westcott (2019-20, Lakeshore High School), current LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (2018-19, Dunham School), Slade Bolden (2017-18, West Monroe High School), and Keytaon Thompson (2016-17, Landry-Walker High School), among the state’s list of former award winners.