SCHS kicker makes state Heisman finalist
Jared Baxter can add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments.
The Sevier County Smoky Bears senior kicker became the all-time leading scorer in school history last month, and last week learned he’d been selected as a state finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman — one of the most prestigious honors for a high school athlete.
Though Baxter didn’t win the state honor — Drew Schreder of Cosby High School and Celina Ferrell of Fairview High School were the two state winners — the kicker was honored to simply be in the running.
“It’s quite an honor,” he said. “A couple of people told me about it, so I kind of applied, hoping... I’m really honored to have been chosen.”
In all there were 1,355 applicants for the state of Tennessee, and Baxter was one of the 10 male finalists.
A 4.0 student on pace to be a valedictorian, Baxter also enjoys working in the community.
“I try to do some (community service),” he said. “Work it in with football and academics. You’re out here (on the football field) everyday, but I’m trying to work hard to always be doing something to give back to the community that’s given so much to me.”
Wendy’s said that all state finalists were worthy of praise for their efforts.
“These finalists embody the Heisman spirit of hard work and dedication through their outstanding achievements in athletics, academics and community/school leadership,” Wendy’s said in a media release.
The Wendy’s High School Heisman Program has been around since 1994, when the fast-food chain launced the program with the Heisman Memorial Trust to recognize outstanding high school seniors nationwide who excel in athletics, academics and community leadership.
Students can nominate themselves for the award online, in addition to being recommended by principals, teachers, guidance counselors and coaches. The most exceptional students are then selected to advance during extensive judging processes conducted at both state and national levels, according to Wendy’s.
The national finalists and will go on to compete for the National Winner title in New York City on December 7. There, they’ll be featured during a televised ceremony on ESPN networks and will receive gold medals and $2,000 awards for their high schools. One male and one female National Winner will receive a crystal Wendy’s High School Heisman trophy, a $500 gift certificate to Wendy’s, and Wendy’s will donate $10,000 to each winner’s respective high school. Additionally, the winners will be recognized during the collegiate Heisman Trophy broadcast on ESPN, December 8.
In 2009, then-SCHS senior Alex McCandless was a national finalist for Wendy’s High School Heisman. He’s currently a junior at the University of Tennessee on the cross country team.
In 1997, Sevier County’s Sarah Edwards won Wendy’s High School Heisman. Edward went on to play basketball at the University of Tennessee and is now a practicing ER physician.