"When I received this award in 2000, it was a really significant moment for me, so it felt great to surprise Malcolm with the news and invite him into one of the most prestigious legacy programs in high school sports," said Minnesota Twins Catcher Joe Mauer. "Gatorade has been on the sidelines fueling athletic performance for years, so to be recognized by a brand that understands the game and truly helps athletes perform is a huge honor for these kids."
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Jones as the nation's best high school football player. A national advisory panel comprised of sportswriters and sport-specific experts from around the country helped select Jones from more than 1.1 million high school football players nationwide. Jones is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade® Male High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special afternoon ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound senior running back and linebacker has led the Lions to a 13-0 record and a showdown with Serra High in the CIF Northwest Division finals, scheduled for Dec. 11. At the time of his selection, Jones had rushed for 2,156 yards and 36 touchdowns on 198 carries. A 2010 U.S. Army All-American, he also recorded 136 tackles through 13 games, including 91 solo tackles, along with three interceptions, two sacks, and two fumble recoveries. Jones also collected two receiving touchdowns and three defensive touchdowns. The 2008 CIF Football Player of the Year, Jones has led Oaks Christian, ranked as the nation's No. 3 team in both the USA Today Super 25 and ESPN RISE FAB 50 polls this week, to 34 consecutive victories while rushing for more than 5,000 yards as a four-year varsity standout.
Jones has maintained a 3.46 GPA in the classroom. A peer math tutor at his school and goodwill ambassador for the Tarzana-Encino Hospital Pediatric ICU, he has volunteered locally as a youth basketball referee and at the Dream Center in Los Angeles on behalf of at-risk teens.
"In crunch time, you go to Jones," said Oaks Christian Head Coach Bill Redell, who also coached former Notre Dame Quarterback Jimmy Clausen in the Lions program. "I've had the privilege to coach a lot of talented football players and he's right up there with the best of them. He is really something special."
Jones has verbally committed to play football on scholarship at UCLA beginning in the fall of 2010.
"Without question, Malcolm is deserving of recognition as the nation's best high school football player based on his statistics on the field and the impact his accomplishments have had on Oaks Christian's success," said Gatorade Senior Vice President of Sports Marketing Jennifer Storms. "But he is also a shining example to peers and aspiring young players of what a leader and a student-athlete should be. He represents everything we hope for in a Gatorade® Player of the Year recipient."