Those are just some of the names the Alabama Sports Writers Association has awarded with its top honor, the Mr. Football award, throughout its 28-year history.
He can now add his own name to that list.
Blanchard claimed the award for the 2009 season on Wednesday at the annual Birmingham News Player of the Year awards banquet, which honored 14 of the state’s best backs and linemen of the year.
Blanchard is Cherokee County High School’s first player to ever claim the award, which has honored top football athletes since 1982.
The Jacksonville State football and baseball commitment edged out Demopolis junior running back DeMarcus James by just three total points (165-162), the closest race in ASWA Mr. Football award history.
“This is such a great honor for me, my family and everyone back at Cherokee County High School,” Blanchard said. “Coach (Tripp) Curry pushed me my whole life. It just means so much to me, and it’s so prestigious to be put in the same league as Julio Jones and all those other guys. I’m so grateful to have this award.”
Blanchard, who also won the Class 4A Back of the Year, completed 200 of 289 passes for 2,916 yards with 35 touchdowns and just four interceptions – all single-season school records. He also led the state champion Warriors (15-0) in rushing last season with 1,161 yards on 151 carries with 20 touchdowns.
Blanchard was also the MVP of the Class 4A state title game in December, a game in which he led the Warriors to a 31-27 victory over Jackson.
In that game, he completed 14 of 23 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown. Blanchard also rushed for 100 yards on 20 carries and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 5-yard carry with 26 seconds left.
In his four-year varsity career, Blanchard set the school’s all-time passing mark with 6,948 yards and 75 touchdowns. He also rushed for 2,381 career yards and 38 touchdowns.
“For anybody to get something like this, it’s a great moment,” Curry said. “Reading off the names of people who got this thing in the past, to put his name in there with those type guys … if you look at the names of all those guys who won it before, none of those guys come from 0-10 teams. They all come from great teams and great players on it. I’m thankful Coty was recognized as the state’s best. I’m tickled to death for him and his family.”
Speaking of family, Blanchard’s father, Fran, was unable to attend the banquet Wednesday – but he had good reason. He had surgery on his appendix and gall bladder on Tuesday and was in the hospital recovering.
When told his son won the Mr. Football award shortly after it was announced, Fran Blanchard texted his son on his cell phone ‘Way to go son! I’m so proud of you.’
“It might get him out of bed,” the younger Blanchard joked. “He texted me (beforehand) and told me good luck, and that he loves me. I wish he could have been here so bad, because he’s been there so much for me. He’s like a spokesman for me. He keeps me in line, and keeps me talking with the college coaches. He’s always there for me. He’d give anything to be here. I’m sorry he couldn’t make it, but it’s something that he had to do.”
The younger Blanchard also gave thanks to his teammates for helping him get selected as Mr. Football.
“I’m nothing without my teammates,” Blanchard said. “The state championship was the biggest thing I’ve ever had in my life, and Mr. Football is just another award that has come along with that. I wished they could have been here to accept this with me. There’s no way it can get any better than this.”
Blanchard became the seventh quarterback in the last nine years to claim the Mr. Football honor. He’s also the first Mr. Football winner from a Class 4A school since Alexandria's Mac Campbell in 1997.