Posted: 10:21 am Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Gatorade names Matt Elam Florida Player of the Year 

By Jason Lieser

Dwyer senior Matt Elam continues to pile up post-season accolades and the latest addition to his collection is the Gatorade Football Player of the Year award for Florida.

Gatorade and ESPN RISE magazine announced the award Thursday morning in a press release.

Elam

Elam

By winning the state award, Elam is now a candidate for the national award, which will be given out later this month.

Elam has played linebacker, safety, running back and receiver for Dwyer this year and helped lead the Panthers (11-1) to this week’s Class 4A regional final against New Smyrna Beach.

Elam, a Florida commit, had 53 tackles and three sacks for Dwyer this season, according to the release.

He was devastating at running back, too, where he rushed for 964 yards and 14 touchdowns on just 98 attempts. The three other area players who topped 950 rushing yards did so on no fewer than 103 carries.

Elam has been even better in the playoffs. During the post-season, he has 399 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 28 attempts.

He has been selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio next month.

Elam is also a finalist for the Lou Groza Palm Beach County Player of the Year, which will be awarded Tuesday. Elam won the award as a junior in 2008 and is considered the favorite to take it again.

The press release praised Elam for showing “not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.”

The last three Florida winners were Madison County’s Jacobi McDaniel (2008), Miami-Washington’s Brandon Harris (2007) and Ocala-Trinity Catholic’s John Brantley (2006). Pahokee’s Anquan Boldin won the award in 1999.

Other past state winners include Jets QB Mark Sanchez (2004, California), Patriots WR Wes Welker (1999, Oklahoma), Ravens LB Terrell Suggs (1999, Arizona) and Jerome Bettis (1989, Michigan).