For the first time in 14 years, Tucson is home to the state's best high school football player
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For the first time in 14 years, Tucson is home to the state's best high school football player

Salpointe's Bijan Robinson (5) rushes up the middle through the heart of the Vista Grande defense in the first quarter of the Lancers' season finale at Salpointe High School, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 1, 2019.

Gatorade confirmed on Friday what many in Tucson had known for a while: Bijan Robinson is the best high school football player in the state. 

Salpointe Catholic's senior running back was named the Gatorade Arizona Football Player of the Year. The award recognizes athletic excellence, academic achievement and character. Robinson, who has verbally committed to the University of Texas, carries a B average, is a leader at his church, and has volunteered to help the homeless and youth football players. 

Robinson is just the seventh Southern Arizonan in 34 years to win the Gatorade award. Sabino High School running back Glyndon Bolasky won it in 2005, and  Ironwood Ridge lineman Daniel Borg won it a year before that. Other Southern Arizonans to win the award include Sahuaro tight end Todd Thompson (1993), San Manuel lineman/linebacker Warner Smith (1991), Sahuaro lineman Mike Ciasca (1990) and Amphi running back Michael Bates (1989).

Robinson rushed for 2,235 yards and 38 touchdowns this season, leading Salpointe to the AIA's Open Division semifinals. He finished his career as the state's all-time touchdowns leader, and ranks second among all players — and first among big-school players —with 7,036 rushing yards. 

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Robinson joins recent Gatorade Arizona Football Players of the Year Jake Smith (Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep), Brock Purdy (Gilbert Perry), Draycen Hall (Gilbert Higley), Daniel Bridge-Gadd (Paradise Valley) and Christian Kirk (Scottsdale Saguaro). 

Robinson handled his prep stardom well, often lingering after games to sign autographs and pose for pictures with dedicated fans. On a team loaded with major-college prospects — Lancers Lathan Ransom (Ohio State) and Bruno Fina (UCLA) are expected to sign with schools this month — the running back was praised for being a good teammate. 

“It started from how I was raised,” Robinson told the Star last month. “(When) people come up to you, always be respectful and never act big-headed or cocky. I feel like signing autographs or taking pictures with people makes them happy. They don’t always get to see that for just an everyday person in Tucson, so just me being here and being able to give them that joy is something I enjoy.”

Includes information from a news release. 

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