Jaxson Dart was a relatively unknown high school football commodity in his first three years at Roy High School. But once he transferred to Corner Canyon for this senior season, things started to change for him.
He led the Chargers to their third straight state title, setting a single-season touchdown passing record in the process. He committed to USC, one of the most prestigious college football programs and quickly emerged on the Trojans’ depth chart this spring.
The culmination of those accolades came Wednesday when he was given what is arguably the most prestigious sports award in the country — the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award. He’s the first athlete from Utah to win the national accolade since the award’s inception in 1985.
“This is going to be something I’m going to celebrate my whole life,” Dart told reporters on Tuesday. “At the same time, I feel like I have a lot more dreams to chase, a lot more accolades to hopefully fulfill in my career.”
Dart won the Gatorade award for Utah earlier this month. He was the second football player in Corner Canyon’s history to win it after Cole Hagen won last year.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound quarterback passed for 4,691 yards and 67 touchdowns in his senior season, leading the Chargers to a 14-0 record. Dart completed 240 of 345 passes, throwing just four interceptions, while also rushing for 1,195 yards and 12 TDs on 128 carries.
Dart led the country in passing yards, total yards, passing touchdowns and total touchdowns. Those numbers also led him to the MaxPreps National Football Player of the Year Award.
“The state championship was super special to me and it just kind of opened many other doors,” Dart told The Salt Lake Tribune earlier this month.
ESPN ranked Dart as the No. 19 recruit in the country for the class of 2021.
“I can’t really recall a quarterback improving from junior to senior year to the degree of Jaxson Dart, who took his game to an elite level this past fall,” Steven Wiltfong, director of recruiting for 247Sports, said in a statement.
Dart graduated high school early and has been attending USC since January. He’s gotten the opportunity to participate in spring practices with the football team, where he was the backup quarterback during the showcase in April.
Dart completed 7 of 13 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. USC head coach Clay Helton said after the spring showcase that he felt Dart looked “poised.”
“It’s been everything that I’ve hoped for,” Dart told The Tribune regarding his experience in college so far. “I go out every day and just have a blast being around the guys on the team. It’s just a great group of people.”
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence virtually surprised Dart with the news that he had one the national Gatorade award. The two talked for about five minutes afterwards, Lawrence said, where the NFL QB gave Dart some advice.
“What I said was just to be yourself,” Lawrence said. “That’s what people like. That’s what people want to be around. That’s what I told Jaxson.”
While Lawrence doesn’t know Dart personally, he said the USC quarterback “seems like a humble guy, seems like he’s pretty confident in who he is and knows who he is.” He added that it seems like “USC is in good hands” with Dart.
Dart said he was led to believe he was on a call regarding the Pac-12 when Lawrence surprised him. His family, friends and former Corner Canyon teammates and coach were with him and presented him with a trophy.
Dart joined a growing line of quarterbacks from Corner Canyon who have quickly made names for themselves. Hagen is playing at Yale, and Zach Wilson was just drafted No. 2 overall by the New York Jets.
Dart is glad to see that football players in Utah are starting to get some national recognition.
“Ever since I was young, I always felt that Utah [high school] football was a little overlooked,” Dart said. “I thought we had a lot of underrated players, a lot of underrated teams here in the state.”
Emmitt Smith, Peyton Manning and Kyler Murray are just a few examples of current and former pro football players who won the national award for their high school performances.
“I look at the names and I just look at the things that those individuals have done for the sport that they play as well as all the different things that they’ve done for the community around them and it doesn’t even feel real yet,” Dart said. “It’s going to take some time to sink in for sure. But I’m still just in shock and can’t believe I’m in the same discussion and awards as those guys.”