Landers Award

What is the Landers Award?

Known as the “Heisman of Arkansas High School Football,” the Landers Award recognizes the top high school football players each year. High school football has long been important to the Landers family. Scott Landers, who was managing partner of the Landers Auto Group’s seven dealerships until his death in 2020, was a high school football star in his own right as a linebacker at Pulaski Academy. He was named to All-District and All-State teams and received a scholarship to play football at Arkansas Tech University.

How are the Landers Award nominees selected?

Throughout the high school football season, the KATV Sports staff selects a Landers Player of the Week for 13 weeks. Those players are then announced during KATV’s regular Thursday sportscast.

How is the Landers Award winner chosen?

Once football season is over and all the Landers Players of the Week have been selected, a panel of print, TV and radio reporters and broadcasters who cover high school football cast their votes. The winner is then announced during a special 30-minute live broadcast each January on KATV Channel 7. Longtime Sports Director Steve Sullivan hosts.

What prizes does the Landers Award winner receive?

In addition to being named the Arkansas High School Football Player of the Year, the winner receives a trophy, signature Jostens ring and a $5,000 scholarship for his high school.

Who are the previous Landers Award winners?

This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the Landers Award. This year’s recipient will go on to join an exceptional class of players who were previously named Landers Award winners, including several who have gone on to play in the NFL. Those winners are:

2000: De’Arrius Howard of West Memphis
2001: Reid McKinney of Warren
2002: Landon Leach of Russellville
2003: Peyton Hillis of Conway
2004: Darren McFadden of Oak Grove, North Little Rock
2005: Damian Williams of Springdale
2006: A.J. Whitmore of Nashville
2007: Tyler Wilson of Greenwood
2008: Spencer Keith of Pulaski Academy, Little Rock
2009: Michael Dyer of Little Rock Christian Academy
2010: Brandon Allen of Fayetteville
2011: Fredi Knighten of Pulaski Academy, Little Rock
2012: Drew Morgan of Greenwood
2013: Zach Launius of Cabot
2014: Ty Storey of Charleston
2015: LaDarius Skelton of Pine Bluff
2016: Taylor Powell of Fayetteville
2017: Connor Noland of Greenwood
2018: Justice Hill of Little Rock Christian Academy
2019Jacolby Criswell of Morrilton
2020: Austin Ledbetter of Bryant
2021: Joe Himon of Pulaski Academy, Little Rock

What is the Scott Landers Award?

Shortly after his sudden death of a heart attack at the age of 35 in January 2020, the Scott Landers Memorial Scholarship was created in his memory. A $5,000 scholarship is given to the winners, who exhibit tenacity and grit on the football field. Past winners are:

2020: Futa Shinkawa of Pulaski Academy, Little Rock
2021: E’Marion Harris of Joe T. Robinson, Little Rock

What is the Paul Eels Award?

The Paul Eels Award honors a player who “exhibits perseverance, determination, courage and resolve in the fact of adversity,” and is named in honor of the legendary Channel 7 sportscaster. Previous winners are:

2011: Justin Hall of Warren
2012: Ian Shuttleworth of Bryant
2013: Bo Weddle of Carlisle
2014: Neal Moore of Harmony Grove, Benton
2015: McTelvin Agim of Hope
2016: Hayden Lassiter of Warren
2017: Aaron Griffin of North Little Rock
2018: Mills Bethea of Stuttgart
2019: Tristen Peebles of Hampton
2020: Bladen Fike of Fayetteville
2021: Beau Wright of Benton